Taking tsunami relief to the slopes | SierraSun.com

Taking tsunami relief to the slopes

David Lai had been saving his season’s wages from his part-time snowboard instructing job at Squaw this winter for a new mountain bike. But when reports started coming in about the extent of the devastation caused by the Dec. 26 tsunami in Southeast Asia, Lai figured the mountain bike could wait another year and he pledged to donate all of his salary and tips this season to the American Red Cross International Disaster Relief Fund.”I heard on the news about a restaurant or shop somewhere in the Midwest and the owner was going to donate all sales for the next two days to help the relief,” Lai said, “so I figured I would just donate my entire paycheck to it. Then I thought about it some more and decided to donate all my paychecks for the entire season.”As a part-time instructor, Lai does not expect his individual contribution to be huge, but he hopes to multiply its effect by soliciting local businesses to match what he raises.By press time, Lai had a roster of six local businesses committed to matching or partially matching his donation, which he plans to make in May after Squaw closes for the season. He hopes to recruit enough additional partners so that the combined donation will exceed $10,000.”It looks like the amount of destruction has been pretty enormous, so they’re going to need the money for quite some time,” he said. “It’s not just going to be like you have to donate now. I’m going to collect up the money and make a donation in May when the season is over and I get all my matching companies to donate at that time.”Lai is a two-year Truckee resident who makes his living doing computer programming and consulting. He has shared his passion for snowboarding as a part-time snowboard instructor at Squaw for the past two years.In addition to donating his salary, Lai said that he’s been telling all his students that any tips he receives will be included in his tsunami relief donation, and he’s been getting a good response to his efforts.To contact David Lai about a matching donation or hiring him for a private snowboard lesson, e-mail him at david@powderrider.com or contact the Squaw Valley Ski School directly at 581-7263.Businesses that have pledged to match or partially match Lai’s tsunami relief donation:Joe CoffeeExwireAlpen EngineeringPorters Ski & SportHead North SportsSyd’s Bagelry & ExpressoOther ways to contribute:The Truckee Tahoe Community Foundation is reporting that a number of local citizens have been making contributions to the tsunami relief effort through the foundation.So far more than $26,500 has been donated to the American Red Cross, Doctors Without Borders and a number of other donor-specified organizations helping with the relief effort.”We just think it’s important for people to give, and if we can make it easier and make them feel like a part of a bigger effort, that’s what’s important to us,” said Lisa Dobey, the Truckee Tahoe Community Foundation’s CEO.The foundation also has a list of other groups that need support in the region that is available by calling TTCF at (530) 587-1776.