Assemblyman Tom Alfano announced a comprehensive Italian Earthquake Relief fund that is collecting donations for the families. The NIAF/Abruzzo Relief Fund, which has been established by the National Italian American Federation, will help victims and their families who perished from the recent earthquake in the town of L'Aquila and other small towns in central Italy in the region of Abruzzo.

"This was a tragedy and claimed the lives of innocent people as they slept," Assemblyman Tom Alfano said. "The Elmont, Franklin Square, North Valley Stream, Floral Park and West Hempstead communities have gotten involved in international causes to help people. Over the past few weeks, many people have asked me how they can help Abruzzo. This is a great way to get involved and make a difference."

The National Italian American Federation is a nonprofit organization dedicated to preserving and promoting the heritage and culture of Americans of Italian descent, the nation's fifth largest ethnic group. Among the supporters of the relief effort and organization are: Yogi Berra, Luciano Pavarotti, Danny Aiello, Andrea Bocelli, Tony Lo Bianco, Alan Alda, Sophia Loren, Martin Scorcese, Tommy LaSorda, Mario Batelli, Frankie Valli and Gina Lollobrigida.

"NIAF extends its sincerest condolences to the victims and their families suffering from the recent earthquake that struck residents as they slept. This tragic disaster has claimed the lives of innocent people. Words cannot convey the Foundation's sense of loss for the victims. Our hearts and prayers are with them and the rescue workers, who are frantically trying to save those who remained trapped in the debris," NIAF President Joseph V. Del Raso, Esq., said.

The earthquake, with a magnitude of 6.3 reported by the U.S. Geological Survey, has resulted in the deaths of hundreds of individuals with more than 1,500 people injured and many people still missing. With residents still buried under the debris of the collapsed buildings, rescue workers continue to work diligently to save the remaining trapped victims. Between 30,000 and 40,000 people are believed to have lost their homes and Italian authorities are working to find them shelter before nightfall.

"The amount of damage is truly shocking," Assemblyman Alfano noted. "The number of people losing their homes is on par with every homeowner in North Valley Stream, Elmont and one third of Franklin Square being wiped out. It's a tragedy and we have to help."

Assemblyman Alfano has encouraged residents who wish to donate to the relief effort can do so in many ways: by check and mail, donations can be made by check payable to the NIAF/Abruzzo Relief Fund. Kindly mail to NIAF/ Abruzzo Relief Fund, The National Italian American Foundation, 1860 19th Street NW, Washington, DC 20009. Or donate online by simply going to: www.niaf.org.

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