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Some Boonsboro High students to aid Japanese relief efforts

March 18, 2011|By JANET HEIM | janeth@herald-mail.com
  • Twins Leah and Chloe Kim work on handmade origami cranes during lunch at Boonsboro High School. Ayako Shiga's Japanese National Honor Society students are selling the cranes to raise money for Japanese relief efforts. The long stands are called one thousand cranes and contain 20 paper cranes stacked and threaded together. They are a symbol of peace and hope.
By Yvette May, Staff Photographer

BOONSBORO — The Japanese earthquake and tsunami might have hit thousands of miles from Washington County, but for the students in the Japanese National Honor Society at Boonsboro High School, the disaster hit close to home.

Their Japanese language teacher, Ayako Shiga, is from Tokyo, and her immediate family lives in Japan.

Shiga's students had been raising money for a trip to Japan this summer, but after realizing they probably would not be able to make the trip in light of recent events, they have offered to donate the money to relief efforts in Japan.

Danielle Derflinger, president of the Japanese National Honor Society at Boonsboro High, said in an email that it wasn't hard to decide what to do with the trip money.

"Once we realized the extent of the damage, we knew that Japan would need much help recovering," Danielle wrote.

Her hope is that all the money the students raised would go to Japan's relief efforts. She said although students are disappointed at missing the opportunity to travel to Japan, they understand the situation.

The airplane tickets were to be purchased on March 11, the same day the quake hit.

"It definitely touched my heart when they said they wanted to donate their trip money," Shiga said.

The students also are selling origami peace cranes that they made. The are charging 50 cents for the cranes, being sold during lunch shifts at Boonsboro High.

On Tuesday, the first day of fundraising, they took in more than $200 in one 30-minute lunch period, Shiga said.

Danielle said the peace crane idea was Shiga's, but received the full support of her students.

The students also are collecting coins and serving as a regional collection center for donations that will go to the Red Cross of Washington County for distribution to the International Red Cross.

The Boonsboro Middle School magnet program has also joined in the effort.

At this point, there is too much chaos in Japan to collect other relief items and that money is the best way to donate, Shiga said.

"Our purpose is to let people know we can be an accountable window for community support going to the proper place," said Shiga, adding that they are serving as a bridge to the Red Cross and the Embassy of Japan in Washington, D.C.

Shiga said in a telephone interview that right after the earthquake, she was unable to reach her family in Japan. It was an email from her father that finally let her know her family members were safe.

Shiga's parents live in southern Tokyo, while her brother and sister-in-law and their 7-month-old son live in central Tokyo.

Tokyo is south of where the earthquake and tsunami hit in northeast Japan.

Shiga said the only impact of the quake for her parents was some water spilling out of their aquarium and several CDs falling on the floor.

Now the big concern is radiation leakage from the damaged nuclear power plants. Shiga said residents have been advised to stay inside with the doors closed.

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Williamsport High teacher, students working to raise funds

Williamsport High School teacher Sarah Schulman and her Japanese language students are partnering with Boonsboro High School to raise relief funds for Japan.

They also are making origami cranes and hope to begin "selling" them next week, with the goal of selling 1,000 at 50 cents each.

They will string the purchased cranes as a reminder of their wish for peace and stability in Japan, then will deliver them to hospitals and other care facilities.

They also hope to sell at least 50 Lady Gaga Japan Earthquake Relief bracelets, with the proceeds from both fundraisers going to the American Red Cross.

Schulman, who majored in Japanese at the University of Maryland, spent four months in Japan at a language institute following graduation.

She has been in contact with most of her friends, but is still waiting to hear from a friend in Shizuoka, which she heard had experienced a 6.0 earthquake Tuesday.

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