Revelstokians offer aid to Japan

Revelstokians are doing what they can to help the victims of the triple-whammy that his Japan last week, gathering money and, in a poignant show of support, origami cranes. Krista Carnegie and Lisa Moore fold origami cranes under the guidance of Zuzana Driediger at the Winter Market on Thursday. They were two of the many people who stopped to donate money and/or fold paper cranes in solidarity with the people of Japan, which was hit by a 9.0 magnitude earthquake, then a tsunami and (as if that was not enough) a nuclear emergency. More than 5,000 are known to be dead and the death toll could rise to 25,000. Hundreds of thousands of people either lost their homes in the quake and tsunami or were forced to evacuate due to the nuclear emergency. David F. Rooney photo

By David F. Rooney

Revelstokians are doing what they can to help the victims of the triple-whammy that his Japan last week, gathering money and, in a poignant show of support, origami cranes.

“We’ve had about 40 or 50 people stop by already,” said Zuzana Driediger as she manned a table at the Winter Market in the Community Centre Thursday afternoon.

Beside her hung an immense garland of paper cranes and to one side a large glass jar already stuffed with fives, tens and twenties. It was early in the afternoon and it was apparent that Revelstoke’s carefully nurtured unique connection with Japan was alive and well.

And it wasn’t just money that people were donating. Many passersby were compelled to taking a few minutes to fold origami cranes. They, and the money raised, will be sent to the Japanese Consulate General to show their solidarity with the beleaguered Japanese people.

This ad hoc effort to help out has special meaning for Tomo Fujimura. He had recently returned home to Revelstoke after a visit to see his family in Japan and his wife, Yuko and their very young son, Taiki, are still there.

“They are near Kyoto, so they are safe,” he said, but his thoughts are nonetheless with them at this time.

He said local fund-raising will continue over the coming weeks. Information on those efforts will be published in The Current as they are made available. You can also contribute directly to the Japanese relief efforts through the Canadian Red Cross. Click here to go to a secure Red Cross donation page.

Meanwhile, Alice Weber sent an update on Thursday’s fundraising that speaks volumes about our community:

“Yesterday at the Farmer’s Market, between 2-5pm, Revelstokians generously donated a total of $916.72 to the jar on the table. Tomo and I have set up an account at the Credit Union, and people can deposit money into the account for Japanese Earthquake Fundraising.

“The crane events of last year (1910 avalanche) triggered many inquiries this past week — about whether we could fold cranes and raise funds for Japan. The Farmer’s Market donations were really impressive (and thanks to the Farmer’s Market for donating the table for the last-minute request). I asked Tomo to sit with us, and his knowledge and maps at the table provided great detail to everyone about the current state in different areas of Japan.

“Dozens of cranes were folded, and there are about 900 sheets of paper from last year’s event that I have handed off to Tomo — in case there is a movement in town to create a Senbazuru to send to Japan.

“In addition, Cathy English from the Revelstoke Museum will be depositing $125 raised at the Ski History talk the other night.”

Private individuals, too, are thinking of unique ways to offer assistance. Local painter Cecilia Lea is offering to donate 50 per cent off the sale of her work to the Canadian Red Cross.

“Yesterday I received a blog from Liz Wiltzen — a far more accomplished artist than I — notifying her readers that she was auctioning off one of her new 5 x 7 pieces and was going to donate the proceeds to the Japan Relief Fund,” she said in her blog. “That got me to thinking, how could I do something like that to help? Her small painting of that size sells for $400.00. One that size of mine is $50.00, significantly less. But, what if I were to put all my available paintings up for the next few weeks? What if I donated 50% of the sales to the Japan Earthquake/Asia-Pacific Tsunami Relief Fund set up by the Canadian Red Cross? So, that is what I am going to do. It’s the best way I can think of to help those in Japan.

“I will leave this offer open for 3 weeks, until April 10. I hope I am able to raise a fair amount to donate to the Red Cross, which I believe to be the most reliable organization to contribute to.”

If you’d like to fold an origami crane on your own, you may find this video created for last year’s 1910 Avalanche commemoration useful: