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Just about everyone who calls this peninsula of St. Mary’s home has roots somewhere else. Some families first immigrated here 375 years ago. Others are more recent arrivals.

Thanks largely, but not solely, to Patuxent River Naval Air Station, people have come to St. Mary’s from the four corners of the earth. Consequently, when disaster strikes anywhere in the world, there are likely people living here who are touched by the pain.

This month the Filipino community in St. Mary’s watched in horror as first an earthquake and then one of the most powerful typhoons in recorded history struck their home nation, where many of them have friends and relatives.

We live in an age of instant communications that quickly brings news of tragedy elsewhere to our doorsteps and connects us electronically to every part of the world. But those communications are not foolproof, and the first days after the typhoon struck last week were filled with tears and prayers, punctuated by frantic attempts to find out if family members and others had survived.

Then, as more reports and images came out of the devastated areas, the enormity of what the survivors face began to sink in. The simple act of eating a meal has been a reminder of the sudden deprivation faced by men, women and children in the central Philippines.

Some in the Filipino community in St. Mary’s have been collecting shoes and clothing that they will ship directly to the Philippines. Some are collecting money they intend to deliver to where it is needed. Some are planning to fly to their home country to aid in the recovery. These are efforts to get help into the right hands.

Those of us who have no personal connection to the Philippines have been urged by international relief organizations to send financial contributions, not food and clothing that could end up sitting in a stateside warehouse because of logistical problems.

None of us can take on all the problems of the world. But we can recognize that many of those problems touch our neighbors. Showing compassion as one human being to another is never an empty gesture. And offering financial or other help to people and organizations we trust to deliver them is a way to ensure that those contributions are not futile or even counterproductive in helping the victims of natural disaster resume a normal life.