The Italian community in San Francisco is stepping up to help victims of the massive earthquake in Italy, sending both financial and spiritual aid.
At Washington Square Park, the heart of city's Italian community, some of the economic aid is coming from the Italian Athletic Club. As for the spiritual help, some of that is being sent from St. Peter and Paul's Catholic Church, where songs and prayers were led by the Rev. Al Mengon.
"We pray that the organizations, the government, the people of goodwill will come to the rescue and help out the victims of the earthquake," Mengon said.
Around the corner from the church is the athletic club, flying the Italian flag at half staff. The club is planning a fundraiser for quake victims.
"Everybody loves Italy, and when something like that happens, we're all one," said Joe Marotto, the athletic club's president.
Part of those plans include making certain the money raised at a Tuesday benefit spaghetti and meatball dinner gets to those in need. Organizers have been in touch with the Italian Embassy.
"We are looking at making sure it gets to the organization that will get it directly instead of having the money siphoned off along the way," Marotto said. "We want the people to get the money."
San Francisco native Tom Torriglia moved to Italy three years ago. He has seen this type of tragedy before.
"Having gone through the '89 earthquake here and then living in Italy with earthquakes there, it's just a horrible feeling," he said. "I can't imagine what the people are going through."
The magnitude-6.2 quake hit Central Italy about 3 a.m. local time Tuesday, and the death toll had risen to nearly 250 late Wednesday.