Filipinos raise $33,000 for liver boy Louie in SMS blitz
Mary Ann Benitez
Filipinos' penchant for sending text messages has generated 6,600 SMS responses - representing $33,000 in donations - in eight days in a fund-raising campaign for seven-year-old liver patient Louie Perez.
Although Louie already has the $1 million required for his transplant - and then some - deposited at Queen Mary Hospital, several groups have launched their own fund-raisers in the 150,000-strong Filipino community.
This follows an overwhelming response by readers to Louie's plight after the South China Morning Post reported on July 6 that his family needed to meet a $300,000 shortfall for the transplant.
The pot had reached $561,704 by the time collections closed last Wednesday.
SmarTone-Vodafone launched its fund-raising drive among Filipino subscribers in response to the Post articles.
The SMS campaign, named Handog Para Kay Louie (A Gift of Life For Louie), was launched last Tuesday and will run until Sunday.
Philippine Vice-Consul Noel Novicio, who is updated regularly by SmarTone-Vodafone on the campaign, sent an SMS response to a South China Morning Post inquiry yesterday: 'More than 6,600 SMS messages - at $5 each - have been sent as of today.'
This meant more than 300 pages of messages were sent, he said.
'Their donations were accompanied with wonderful messages, I was told. Our [overseas Filipino workers] are real heroes in many ways,' Mr Novicio said in an earlier SMS to a Post inquiry.
A press release from SmarTone-Vodafone explained the mechanics of the SMS drive.
'By sending a series of SMS appeals to its members, a [subscriber-member] who replies to the text message will automatically donate $5 for Louie. The text message reads: 'Share your blessings & help Filipino boy Louie Perez in his liver transplant in HK. REPLY this SMS to donate $5 from your SIM balance to Handog Para Kay Louie',' the company said.
'This SMS shall trigger a confirmation for $5 deduction from their SMS balance. Members can also initiate an SMS and send to the number 98680000, and this will also be equivalent to a $5 donation for Louie.
'There is no limit to the number of replies or text messages a member may wish to send or donate,' it said.
Last Sunday, the University of the Philippines Alumni Association-Hong Kong Chapter handed over a cheque for $13,100 to Louie and his mother, Mary Jean.