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New Yorkers spring to help Italy earthquake victims

Thousands of miles away from the destruction,Italian-Americans in New York are doing what they can for thevictims of Italy's devastating earthquake.

"When crisis strikes, that's when people really show whatthey're made of," said Joseph Scelsa, president of the ItalianAmerican Museum, which has started a disaster relief fund. "It'svery rewarding to have all these people come in and want to help."

Others who have started funds include the borough president ofStaten Island and the Italian Academy Foundation. According to theU.S. Census, there are almost 670,000 people of Italian backgroundin New York City.

The earthquake Monday in the central Italian city of L'Aquilakilled more than 200 people and left 50,000 homeless. It wasItaly's worst earthquake in three decades.

For Steve Acunto, chairman of the Italian Academy Foundation,which has its headquarters near L'Aquila, the kindness and charityof people has been the only solace at a rough time.

"You don't get a lot of good feeling at a time like this, ittests your faith," he said.

Acunto said the calls he's received included one from theprincipal of a school whose students visited L'Aquila last yearthrough the foundation. The students offered to hold a clothingdrive, he said.

While many Italian-Americans have been in the United States forgenerations, the response to the earthquake shows the connection isstill there, Acunto said.

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