Japanese bi-cultural school raises money for relief


"I'm kind of worried because of the radiation right now. I'm afraid it will reach Tokyo," said Maria Watanabe.

Watanabe's husband flew to Tokyo on Sunday for a business trip and more.

"He's probably going to be helping people, asking if they need something because that's how he is. He knows I'm looking for my friends, so I know he's going to be looking as well," said Watanabe.

But she hadn't heard from him yet and can't stop thinking about those who are missing.

"I'm also searching for people in Sendai and some of them are kids who came here for cultural exchange," said Watanabe.

Watanabe reflected on the kids who attended Clarendon Elementary School's Japanese bi-lingual, bi-cultural program. After the earthquake and tsunami in Japan, they organized a potluck, raffle and performance to raise money on Wednesday night.

"They're going to sing tonight and hope people will donate to Japan," said Hannah Glover, a 5th grade student.

In just five days, students and parents scrambled together to put on an amazing fundraiser, channeling any fears into positive energy.

Check upon check was written out to the organization and 100 percent of the money will be destined for the Northern Japan Earthquake Fund.

"The students have little coin boxes in all of their classrooms," said Principal Peter Van Court. "The message collectively is 'You have people who care about you.'"

Children sang "We Are the World" and in the middle of that moving performance, a phone call came to Watanabe from her husband. He told her that her friend perished in Sendai and her body was recovered. Watanabe was flooded with sorrow even as she felt the power of her husband and others pitching in.

"If they watch him doing something good for his country, all the people will also feel the need to help," said Watanabe.

Donation Information:
The JCCCNC (Japanese Cultural and Community Center of Northern California) has set up the Northern Japan Earthquake Fund to collect donations and send them directly to the relief efforts in Japan. They say checks should be payable to "JCCCNC" and to note it's for the "Earthquake Fund."


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