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hope for japan wristband A student at Wyandotte Elementary School in Dublin, Ohio, decided to sell "Hope for Japan" wristbands to raise money for relief efforts in Japan after the March 11 earthquake and tsunami. (Photo courtesy Nicholas Arnold)

Kids in Ohio Help Out

"Hope for Japan" wristbands a fundraising hit

By Nicholas Arnold | April 1 , 2011
Moms and students at a local elementary school in Dublin, Ohio, sell "Hope for Japan" wristbands to raise money for the Japanese Red Cross. (Photos courtesy Nicholas Arnold)
Moms and students at a local elementary school in Dublin, Ohio, sell "Hope for Japan" wristbands to raise money for the Japanese Red Cross. (Photos courtesy Nicholas Arnold)

It's not unusual to see a group of Japanese moms in Wyandotte Elementary School's cafeteria in Dublin, Ohio, on any given Friday afternoon. But on this day, their visit is more purposeful. Exactly one week earlier, on March 11, these moms watched on TV as the worst tsunami in Japan's history destroyed part of their country.

One fifth-grader felt sad about what was happening where her friends and family live. She also felt the need to help them and launched a fundraising effort.

"Kids like wristbands," said Haruko Tanaka. She and her brother came up with the idea of selling wristbands to raise money for the Japanese Red Cross. Haruko's brother is a student at Dublin Coffman High School.

"This is our way of helping out," said Masako Tanaka, Haruko's mom.

Dublin Coffman students had a moment of silence, prayers, and a candlelight vigil last week for the people of Japan. At the vigil, the wristbands were available. They sold about 270 bracelets in an hour.

Written on the wristbands are the words "Hope for Japan."

"I think it is hope that they stay positive," says Cheryl Fournier, a co-chair of the Wyandotte Service Committee. "Japan should know that the world is behind them to help them through this terrible disaster."

In Dublin, support for the people of Japan goes beyond the schoolyard. The city has a strong Japanese community with over 1,600 Japanese nationals. Most live there to work at the Honda factories in nearby Marysville and East Liberty.
 
This past Sunday, a memorial service was held at the Dublin Baptist Church, which has an organized Japanese congregation. Because of the overwhelming support from the Dublin community, the attendance was much greater than expected.

"The turn out was very good," said one organizer. "We didn't expect this many people."

After the earthquake and tsunami, conditions in parts of Japan are unstable. The waves from the tsunami knocked down power lines and swept away homes, cars, and memories. Haruko has connected with her friend living in Japan via email.

"She said that her home was swept away and her things are gone," said Haruko. "I feel for her family."

One of the volunteer mothers who also has family and friends in Japan said many are without food or water.

"Mothers need milk and baby pants for their children because those items are hard to find," she said.

When the wristbands went on sale, they were a big hit. On their first day, the students at Wyandotte raised $575.

"It's fantastic to see such a big turn out!" said Fournier. "I don't remember ever raising that much money in one day."

The money raised from these wristbands will be donated to the Japanese Consulate General in Detroit, Michigan, and it will then be sent to the Japanese Red Cross.

"Just like the Haiti earthquake, we need to get involved," said Hayley F., a Wyandotte fifth grader.

EARTHQUAKE IN JAPAN

A magnitude 9.0 earthquake struck northeast Japan on Friday, March 11, causing a destructive tsunami that reached the west coast of the United States. Scholastic News Kid Reporters are collecting information about the quake and its aftermath and talking to people who have family and friends in Japan and looking into how kids can help with relief efforts. Find their stories in the Earthquake in Japan Special Report.

NEWS FOR KIDS, BY KIDS

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