Typhoon Haiyan was one of the most devastating storms to have ever make landfall. When it hit on November 8, it left nearly 6,000 dead and has since displaced  more than 4.4 million residents, 1.8 million of them children.

“I couldn’t sit back and not do something,” said Barneys New York designer Monique Lhuillier, who was born and raised until the age of 15 in Cebu City. But rather than merely cutting a check, Lhuillier rallied her Los Angeles community into action. By organizing a fundraising “chore-a-thon” at her son’s school and tapping into her own network (and pocket), Lhuillier was able to raise a hefty $50,000 sum to help support the relief efforts. With fresh water and food already taken care of, Lhuillier decided to devote the funds towards education. “I have always felt that children are the future—if they aren’t educated, the future isn’t as bright.”

Since Lhuillier and her family visit the Philipines each winter over the holidays to see her parents, Lhuillier decided to also plan a trip to Tacloban to contribute to the rebuilding efforts in person. In addition to pledging to rebuild the library and gymnasium of a devastated local school, as well as support 15 children through scholarships, Monique and her husband Tom, 7-year-old son Jack and sister Yvette were able to hand out rice, milk and backpacks while on the ground. She has planned to return in July to check in. “There’s a long, long way to go.”