A Nation in Need: How You Can Help

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On the morning of March 11th, I woke up with the usual worries about not having time for breakfast and finding a parking spot at school. I also remember a bit of whining taking place due to the recent oncoming of a cold. While I wasted a bit of time with these issues in the morning, I felt utterly selfish for doing so once I heard of the tragedy tearing apart Japan.

While many people were likely worrying about simple things like me, Japan was dealing with the effects of an 8.9 magnitude earthquake and the 23-foot tsunami the quake triggered. The natural disasters killed thousands and wiped out numerous towns, leaving the entire country scrambling to find a way to pick up the pieces.

As if this wasn’t enough, news spread that the earthquake had blown out the cooling systems of two nuclear reactors. In translation, radiation had begun to leak outside of the plant. Evacuations of residents within certain distances have been done, but the danger levels continue to rise for many more residents as more levels of radiation are being found in water and soil each day.

No one knows for sure what the future holds for Japan, but one thing it can count on is the help being sent its way. It didn’t take long for people in America to find ways to help our ally.

Many celebrities went and are continuing to go to great lengths to lend their aid.

Within a day of tragedy striking, Lady Gaga released a line of bracelets that gives all proceeds directly to Japan relief efforts.

Josh Duhamel and his wife Fergie organized the Tokidoki Youth Relief Run to benefit Japan. The two mile run took place on March 27th in Santa Monica, California and had more than 4,000 participants.

Many others, including lots of young superstars, have donated generous amounts of money.

While finding $1 million to spare may not be possible for the majority of us, especially us college students, there are so many other ways to help.

We live in a high-tech world, so many donation options are conveniently technology-based. You can donate $10 right from your phone by texting REDCROSS to 90999. Many other organizations including GlobalGiving, Save the Children, and the Salvation Army have online outlets for donations. Just be sure to avoid scammers because unfortunately there are people in this world that use disasters such as this to benefit themselves.

Many stores have generously dedicated certain shopping days to Japan relief funds. Stay on the lookout for announcements from your favorite stores. On Friday, March 18th I ordered online from Forever21, and every penny went to Japan. Things were going out of stock much faster than normal, so I know many others took advantage of this opportunity.

Forever 21 clothes might fill half of my closet, but I know another clothing line even better. I’m a sales associate at OshKosh B’Gosh, and I’m proud to say that we have just launched the Cranes for Kids program.

In Japanese culture cranes symbolize well-being and good fortune. It is even believed that a wish will be granted for one who creates a thousand paper cranes. Through the Cranes for Kids program, OshKosh B’Gosh will be collecting paper cranes from customers. For each crane created, OshKosh will donate one piece of clothing to children in Japan. Each crane will also be sent to the OshKosh stores in Japan as an extra gift to show the unending support.

Through April 25th OshKosh is going about collecting the cranes in three ways: in-store collection, mailing, and via Facebook photos. Those who bring cranes to a store location will receive 10% off their purchase as a special thank you. Current UW Oshkosh students or visitors are more than welcome to stop by the Admissions Office to drop off cranes for me to deliver. I would be honored to have a flock of cranes join me on my next trip to OshKosh B’Gosh.  For more details on the collection processes and to learn more about the program visit the Cranes for Kids website or Facebook page. 

For more things going on close to home to benefit Japan relief, read this inspiring article.

You can also use your talents to show that you care. Youtube is filled with montage videos in honor of Japan. People are continuously posting videos of themselves singing songs dedicated to Japan. A friend of mine and I are in the process of doing this. iTunes has even created a mix of songs entitled “Songs For Japan” that benefits the disaster relief.

Finally, never forget that you have a voice. Make people aware of what’s going on. Start your own fundraiser.

I’ve been trying my best to do all that I can to help Japan. It has a special place in my heart because when I first heard of the disaster in Japan, my mind instantly turned to one thing: my cousin Adam.

For a part of each year, he lives with his two beautiful children and wife in Chiba, Japan. When the earthquake hit, he and his family were in Japan. My family was frantic as we waited for word from Adam. Finally the good news came. They were safe.

But when the nuclear plant radiation problems surfaced, Japan was put under even more stress. Adam and the children have returned home, but his wife and her family are refusing to abandon their home country in its time of turmoil. We don’t know if or when they will leave. We don’t know if Adam and the kids will go back to reunite the family. So now we wait.

Waiting. It’s about all we can do in the aftermath of this tragedy, but remember that it’s not the only thing. While we wait, consider your options and decide if there’s anything you can do to help. Every little bit goes a long way. What are some ways you’ve lent a hand to Japan?

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