Monday, March 14, 2011

My heart goes out to Japan - and how you can help

I have been quite shaken up these past few days as the news of the earthquake in Japan has unfolded. Tokyo was the place I called home for 5 years of my life, and Japan and its culture is deeply part of who I am. Some of my very dearest friends and a family who is like a second family to me are living there. I was at the edge of my seat with worry until I found out everyone was safe.

Although Tokyo was outside of the immediate disaster area, they still have it bad. I've been hearing reports from my friends - the terror of the moment, being stuck somewhere unable to get home, not having heat or power or clean water, the constant aftershocks. Thankfully everyone I know is alright, but as horrible as what the people in Tokyo are going through, up north it's just unbelievable. To see the photos of the destruction there is heartwrenching, and I'm filled with sorrow when I think of the thousands of lives lost and the extent of the damage to the beautiful country.

As tragic as it is, it's still amazing to see people coming together and helping one another. Amidst the panic and chaos, people are acting calmly and civilized, taking care of others and trying to help in any way they can. I've heard stories of a woman that owns a bread store handing out free bread to people, or truck drivers offering to transport needed supplies. Major companies have been helping out, like the clothing brand Uniqlo donating funds and warm clothes to the disaster site, wireless provider Softbank making WiFi free to use, or Disney giving out food and drinks to those stranded at their Tokyo theme park.

I can only hope that the relief efforts are done quickly, that people get the medical attention and shelter they need as quickly as possible, and that the death toll doesn't rise any higher than it is.

How you can help:

  • Heart to Heart International is a trustworthy, efficient charity that guarantees 98% of your donation goes directly to the source, as they spend very little on overhead. They provide medical aid and other assistance to countries in need, and are one of the few organizations still helping Haiti a year after their disaster. This is who I chose to make my donation to.
  • I'm sure at this point everyone knows they can text REDCROSS to 90999 to have a $10 donation charged to your phone bill. Red Cross also has a donation site up here, but they only take credit cards and Amazon payments. You can also donate to American Red Cross through iTunes, just find the Red Cross button on the main page of the iTunes store.
  • PayPal has set up a convenient donation site here that allows you to choose one of several participating charities and pay through PayPal, which is completely reliable and trustworthy - 100% of your donation goes to the charity.
  • The Salvation Army has a blog post up detailing how you can donate directly to Salvation Army Japan. You can donate online or text JAPAN or QUAKE to 80888 to make a $10 donation through your phone.
  • Doctors Without Borders is supplying medical help in mobile clinics to currently inaccessible areas. You can donate on their website here.
If you live in the Los Angeles area, one of my friends is pulling together an art fundraiser in a few days, with 100% of the art sales going to Red Cross. They are looking for people to donate their artwork or volunteer at the event. Read more about the event here.

Those of you who are short on cash but use rewards sites like MyPoints or Swagbucks can use their accumulated points to make donations as well. MyPoints always has a Red Cross donation as an option (you can find it under "Charitable Donations") and Swagbucks has just opened a special donation page detailing how much your bucks are worth and where they'll be going. If you have a rewards credit card, check and see if you can use your points towards a charitable donation.

1 comment:

  1. Thank you so much for all your effort in helping Japan. I have friends there that's why Japan is very close to my heart. They are always in my prayers.