How you can contribute to Tonga relief efforts via Bears Without Borders

by Contributed Content on January 21, 2022

Editor’s note: The Rev. Jon Coyne of Bethany Lutheran Church in Menlo Park sent this in on behalf of parishioners Mele and Jesse Fifita, who are founders of Bears Without Borders. 

Malo ‘aupito (Thank you) to everyone who has been reaching out to support the disaster relief in Tonga. As many of you may know, a volcano erupted, followed by a tsunami that hit the main island of Tongatapu and several smaller outer islands.

The tsunami caused severe damage to villages, hundreds of homes and the eruption covered the islands in volcanic ash. We are overwhelmed by the willingness of our community to come together and support those affected by this natural disaster. Our goal is to fund what is most needed, including drinking water, food, first aid, building materials and school supplies.

We have not had direct contact from our family, friends and especially the students we have been working with for the past four years. In the meantime, we will be turning our efforts toward raising funds to aid relief. We are currently waiting on information from our team on the ground in Tonga for the best way to assist everyone affected. Once we are informed, we will continue to post updates on what is happening and the progress of our short and long term efforts.

Bears Without Borders is a program built within the Menlo-Atherton High School Football non-profit organization. BWB focuses on “Connecting Cultures Through Service and Relationships” on the Peninsula and abroad.

In 2018 and 2019, M-A students, staff and alumni traveled to Tonga to serve a middle school that needed major renovation from damages caused by cyclone Gita in 2017-2018. Since Covid, we have not been able to travel to Tonga, but have collected and sent over 1,000 books for schools across the island during the pandemic in 2020 and 2021 by shipping container. Tonga has impacted our lives in such a huge way, we are moved to pull together our resources to help the best we can.

If you would like to give to our cause and help us support the disaster relief in Tonga, please consider giving to our GoFundMe Campaign .

Please continue to keep Tonga in your thoughts and prayers. Thank you for being part of our village. We appreciate your contribution and love for Tonga. If you would like to stay connected with more information and updates, feel free to email us at

Top photo is before and after the eruption; second photo shows the flooding; sending backpacks has been a past effort by Bears Without Borders.


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