University Park, Pa. -- Immediately following the earthquake and tsunami that struck Japan on March 11, Penn State student volunteers mobilized to raise money for those affected by the disaster. Their various efforts have collected $14,397 for the American Red Cross Japan Earthquake and Tsunmai relief fund.
"I am overwhelmed by the number of people who came out to support Japan," said Rino Sato, president of the Penn State Student Red Cross Club. "This was close to the heart for people with family in Japan, but there were people who did not know anyone in Japan and still came out to help. We were very inspired by them."
The Council of LionHearts, Japanese Friendship Association, International Student Council, Asian Undergraduate Student Association and the Songwriters' Club joined the Student Red Cross in fundraising efforts.
Their initiatives included a table in the HUB-Robeson Center staffed by student volunteers collecting donations for two weeks following the disaster. Sato and Yusuke Oyakawa, president of the Japanese Friendship Association, spoke on March 24 about the disaster and relief efforts to Senior Sociology Lecturer Sam Richards' Race and Ethnic Relations class. Their message reached hundreds of students, who donated more than $1,000 that evening alone.
In addition to showing financial support, students have collected messages of hope and support for those affected in Japan, including photos of people writing messages of support on whiteboards. The students created a Facebook page, "ACT: 2011 Japan Earthquake and Tsunami Relief," to share the photos and messages. People from around the world -- including students from Michigan State, UCLA and Southern California -- have posted messages to the page.
Japan continues to struggle with the aftermath of the earthquake and tsunami, as well as the resulting nuclear crisis. The official death toll is nearly 14,000, with nearly 14,000 more still missing and many thousands left homeless. To donate to the American Red Cross Japan Earthquake and Tsunami relief fund, visit redcross.org. To send a message of support to those affected, visit the ACT: 2011 Japan Earthquake and Tsunami Relief page on Facebook.