Students make origami cranes for Japan relief

May 16, 2011 12:30:21 PM PDT
Ten of thousands of victims of Japan's devastating earthquake and tsunami are about to get some much needed help. One company and millions of volunteers are proving a Japanese legend by turning cranes into clothes.

Right now, 50,000 paper cranes fill the OshKosh stock room in Milpitas. They are the result of a campaign launched by the company Cranes for Kids. The deal was simple; the company would donate a piece of clothing to earthquake and tsunami victims in Japan for each crane received. They set a cap of 50,000, but got far more than that.

"There has just been such a tremendous and really generous outpouring from the community, far more than we expected," said OshKosh store manager Felicia Wheeler.

In just three weeks, nearly 2 million paper cranes came pouring. But why cranes? The idea hatched from a well known Japanese legend.

"Cranes are very important in Japanese beliefs - that if you fold 1,000 cranes, you'll be granted a wish. So this was kind of OshKosh's thinking, that while we can't grant everyone's wishes we can help out the people who were affected by the tsunami," said Wheeler.

Individuals, companies, senior centers - even prisons donated cranes. A teacher at Milpitas's Pomeroy Elementary School brought the idea to the school and it took off.

"Our intermediate grades, 4th, 5th and 6th grades, folded 1,701 and cranes that we donated to the OshKosh fundraiser," said teacher Virginia Uyesugi.

The students even gave up their lunch and recesses to fold cranes.

"The feeling that you get when you know that you have helped someone in need is really remarkable and it's kind of unexplainable," said student Victoria Huynh.

Now the cranes get boxed up and sent to Japan along with much needed clothing for earthquake victims who are just beginning to rebuild their lives.


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