MANKATO — Cita Maignes knows about typhoons. Growing up in the Philippines, she witnessed plenty of typhoons, which hit there about 25 times a year.
"I belong to a very poor family and when I was a child, the typhoons would hit, sometimes our house was taken away," said Maignes, who works at the international student office at Minnesota State University.
"The most pressure for me at the time was when my books and pencils and backpack were taken away because of my vision to go to school."
That's why Maignes is leading a fundraising effort to get school-supply money to kids in Tacloban, which was at the center of the worst typhoon in history that hit earlier this month.
And Maignes, who knows how corruption diverts funds in the Philippines, will deliver the money directly and covertly to the schools and families who need it. It's a method she used two years ago after raising funds for survivors of a typhoon in Sendong.
"If you let government officials know about it, half the funds go in their pockets. I know that growing up there, so we secretly give it to the right people."
Maignes has enlisted the help of her brother, who is a police officer in the Philippines. He is identifying the often remote elementary schools where students need help. She gets the funds safely from America to the Phillippines via a bank manager there she knows and trusts.
In February she and three others will travel to the Philippines. She will visit her family, who live on an island that wasn't severely impacted by the typhoon, and then go to Tacloban.
Maignes said the worldwide fundraising effort for the Philippines will provide the basic food, shelter and clothing for victims, leading her to focus on school supplies. "The kids in the Philippines like to go to school. I know education is the only way out of poverty," said Maigness, who earned her master's degree in counseling from MSU in 2004.