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WASHINGTON, DC, May 21, 2012 Responding quickly to the earthquake that struck the northern Italian region of Emilia Romagna on Sunday, May 20, killing at least five people, injuring dozens and leaving thousands homeless, the Sons of Italy has announced intentions to establish an “Earthquake Relief Effort” to assist the victims and inhabitants of the area most affected.

The Order Sons of Italy in America (OSIA), founded in 1905, is the oldest and largest organization representing Americans of Italian heritage in the U.S., with some 550,000 family members residing in all fifty states.

OSIA National President Joseph DiTrapani stated that “a national appeal will go out shortly to our 800 local lodges and 21 state lodges requesting direct contributions from OSIA members.”

OSIA has always responded positively to Italy’s emergency relief efforts, most recently to the earthquake that struck, L’Aquila, in the Abruzzo region, in 2009, but also in response to the earthquakes that caused damage and loss of life in Southern Italy in the early 1980s.

OSIA officials will be meeting with Italian Embassy representatives to discuss various support initiatives.

Established in 1905, OSIA has more than 500,000 family members and supporters and a network of more than 650 chapters coast to coast. OSIA works at the community, national and international levels to promote the heritage and culture of an estimated 26 million Italian Americans, the nation's fifth largest ethnic group according to the U.S. Census Bureau.