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Helping Japan and the Pacific Recover

We have yet to realize the true devastation of the 9.0 Magnitude earthquake, and resulting tsunami, that struck the north Pacific coast of Japan on March 11. All over the world, hearts go out to those affected by this tragedy. Now is the perfect time to do a project that can help give the people in Japan support during this time of need.

As in the past, groups are encouraged to support organizations that have active relief programs on the ground in Japan. Groups can donate to the Red Cross through their online website, or by texting REDCROSS to 90999 to donate $10 from your phone. Donations to the Red Cross will be focused on providing first aid, emotional support and relief items. Save the Children, an organization focused on creating safe shelter for children, is also working in Japan. Donations to Save the Children can be made online through their website, or by texting JAPAN to 20222 to donate $10 from your phone.

If you are struggling to come up with ideas on how you can make a difference, one great place to look is the Jane Goodall's Roots & Shoots online Project Database. A number of groups have reported projects in the area of disaster relief, providing the rest of the Roots & Shoots network with many suggestions for ways to take action. The scope and creativity of these projects is inspiring.

Rancho Romero Roots & Shoots responded to the earthquake that devastated Haiti in January 2010 with love and compassion. They continue to inspire with their New Job for Pearl project, which raises money for the Search Dog Foundation through sales of a book illustrated by the second grade class. As of March 19, 2011, Rancho Romero reached their goal of $10,000 raised, the amount necessary to train a new search and rescue dog!

Also in response the tragedy in Haiti last year, Cornwall Consolidated School Roots & Shoots of Connecticut held a Pancake Breakfast. All of the pancake supplies were donated to the project, and many willing volunteers aided the cause. Ultimately, the group hosted up to 200 people, raising a total of $2,000 dollars, all of which went directly to help out in Haiti by way of the Haitian Health Foundation. What a deliciously important project!

Prairie Crossing Charter School of Illinois thought of another creative way to support disaster relief efforts. Loose change is often overlooked, on bedside tables and under couch cushions, but Prairie Crossing wanted to tap this underappreciated resource. They placed collection bins in every classroom in their school, and encouraged members of their community to unload their heavy pockets. Their project raised a whopping $1,200, which amounts to 4,800 quarters, 12,000 dimes, 24,000 number of nickels, or 120,000 pennies! This group donated their raised funds to Doctors Without Borders.

Groups have also found ways to help outside of fundraising.Arlington LEAP Roots & Shoots of Massachusetts created Hygiene Kits filled with basic necessity items donated from community members, including toilet paper, towels, toothbrushes, and more. They sent the kits through Church World Service to people in Haiti.Zanesville Ohio Roots & Shoots had a similar idea, but with kits designed for pets! Understanding the needs of our non-human companions, they created "Critter Care Kits," filled with donated items from pet stores and community members, and distributed them to families in need through the Red Cross.

These are just a few key examples of creative ways you and your Roots & Shoots group can help support disaster relief efforts in Japan. It is so touching to see Roots & Shoots members become a part of a cause that connects them to people they don't know in such a way that resembles family. Simply becoming aware of the event that has taken place, the impact it will have, and continuing to keep those who have been affected in your thoughts and hearts, is the first step. Knowledge leads to compassion, which inspires action.

We hope that the projects that we have outlined above will help inspire you to unite your community around a change-making project of your own. An idea as simple as a bake sale can do a world of good. There is no limit to what your imagination can come up with to help in situations like these. We look forward to reading about how you address this most recent tragedy in Japan with compassion, creativity, and hope.

Have you already done a project to support disaster relief efforts in Japan? Tell us about it today!





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