Local teen leads Haiyan relief effort


By Erich Wagner (Courtesy photo)

Ellie Wainstein, 17, said she was practically raised by two nannies from the Philippines. So it was only natural that after Typhoon Haiyan ravaged the archipelago nation in November, she wanted to give back in any way she could.

“My friends and I have all been touched in some way by Filipino immigrants,” said Wainstein, a student at St. Stephen’s and St. Agnes High School. “So I started trying to figure out a way … I could help.”

She and other Alexandria children are organizing a charity estate sale with the help of The Potomack Co., with all proceeds benefiting the American Red Cross for Philippines disaster relief. Wainstein’s mother is the founder and president of the local auction house.

“We kind of put it together pretty quickly within the past week-and-a-half or so,” she said.

The Potomack Co. will sell a variety of antiques, used furniture, paintings and books from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday at the 1120 N. Fairfax St. auction house, according to spokeswoman Lucie Holland.

Although employees and consigners have helped in the effort, teens and children primarily coordinated the fundraiser, Holland said.

“Some of them are children of the staff, and while we all just kind of brainstormed together [about what we could do to help], it was really the children’s idea,” she said. “So many Filipino-Americans live in Alexandria — some are childcare providers and some are children they’ve known their whole lives. There’s just a really strong connection with that community, so they really thought they could help.”

The outpouring of support overwhelmed Verna Eason, who’s served as the nanny to the four Wainstein children for the past 15 years. Although her family in the Philippines was unaffected by the typhoon, she has friends whose families lost everything.

“I can’t explain [it], I’m just so touched,” she said. “You know, my boss’ daughter said, ‘I was saving up for an iPod, but now I’ll just send that money back to the Philippines, because they need it more than I do.’

“When they’re little, we teach them to share, share, share, and we already see it instilled in them, so it’s not surprising at all.”

Given all that Eason and other members of the Filipino community have done for Ellie Wainstein over the years, she said it’s only natural to return the favor.

“They’ve given so much to me and my friends — Verna is like a second mother to me — so I just want to be able to give back to them,” she said.