Tsunami relief raises money for Japan

Local Girl Scouts construct paper cranes to spread goodwill; Red Cross also aids Brookings families
The paper cranes were made from a variety of colored and patterned papers.Julia Moore

Cash, prayers and paper cranes are winging their way from the Rogue Valley to help relief efforts in Japan.

Local Red Cross, Salvation Army and United Way leaders are rallying to raise money for Japan's recovery from twin natural disasters — a devastating 9.0-magnitude earthquake and subsequent tsunami.

Oregon Attorney General John Kroger warns Oregonians to be alert for scam artists posing as Japan disaster-relief charities. While many legitimate organizations are seeking donations to aid victims of the devastating earthquake and tsunami in Japan, thiev

Scam artists are becoming increasingly adept at exploiting disasters for personal gain. After the 2010 earthquake in Haiti, text messages became a convenient and popular way to donate to legitimate groups such as the American Red Cross. Scam artists caught on to this trend and started sending mass "charity relief" text messages, requesting credit card numbers and other sensitive information.

In a new twist on the "emergency" scam, hackers are now using alleged video footage of the disaster in Japan linked to malware and online surveys that are designed to extract personal information. For example, one report describes a video linked to a scammer's Facebook account. By clicking on the video, the viewer's personal information shared on Facebook becomes available to the scammer.

Kroger's press release offers the following tips to avoid common emergency relief scams:

  • Be sure you are contributing to a legitimate organization registered with the Attorney General's Office by searching the department's online database or calling 971-673-1880. You also can visit www.guidestar.org or www.charitynavigator.org to get detailed information about charities and their performance.
  • Give to established charities. Creating an efficient and effective charity overnight is nearly impossible. Make sure the charity was around before the disaster.
  • Do not respond to email requests from supposed disaster victims. Unless you know someone in Japan, these requests almost always are scams. Also, be wary of donation requests or videos posted on social media sites by alleged victims or unfamiliar charities.
  • Do not give out personal information via phone, text or e-mail. Legitimate charities will be pleased to receive a contribution by check. Don't send contributions with a "runner," by wire or overnight parcel pick-up service.
  • Beware of calls, email and texts requesting fast money. If you are unfamiliar with the charity, always ask for written materials. No legitimate organization will insist that you donate immediately. Watch out for solicitors who employ dramatic, emotional or heart-tugging stories.

"We have gotten quite a few donations, from $10 to $1,000, to everything in between," said Marj Jameson, executive director of the Southern Oregon Chapter of the American Red Cross.

Financial donations are most helpful at this time in Japan's recovery efforts. The cost to ship donations of bulky supplies is prohibitive, Jameson said.

"Also if we spend the money in Japan, it helps with their recovery," she added.

Jameson said the Southern Oregon chapter also has helped 11 families in Brookings Harbor who lived aboard vessels damaged or destroyed in the March 11 tsunami that also wreaked havoc on Brookings and Crescent City, Calif.

Salvation Army members from the United States, Great Britain, Australia and other nations are already hard at work in Japan. The international organization has had a presence on the island continent since 1885, said Capt. Mark Cooper, commander of the Jackson County Salvation Army.

Cooper said he was relieved to hear no Salvation Army property was damaged in the twin disasters. He also said he was touched to hear that 1,500 Haitian teens from Port Au Prince had joined in prayer for the people of Japan.

"They stopped what they were doing and prayed," Cooper said. "That jumped out at me."

The Red Cross and Salvation Army organizations do great work when a disaster happens, said Dee Anne Everson, director of United Way of Jackson County.

"They are about immediate relief for international, national and local disasters," Everson said, adding United Way's long-term recovery efforts are spearheaded by United Way in Japan, which is known as the Central Community Chest of Japan.

"They are a member of United Way worldwide, as are we," Everson said. "And what we will focus on is rebuilding, repairing and the long-term recovery of community."

Not all Southern Oregon donations headed to Japan are taking the form of cash or checks. At least 1,000 symbols of healing and hope were crafted out of origami paper squares and folded into colorful cranes by local Girl Scouts.

In Asian countries, the crane is a symbol of happiness, and the act of stringing together exactly 1,000 is a gesture of healing. Girl Scouts from Japan sent strings of 1,000 cranes to the U.S. after 9/11, said Michael Ahn, a local troop coleader.

About 50 pairs of nimble hands spent about five hours on Saturday creating the curtain of cranes. What was intended to be a three-hour cranefest turned into an overtime sprint as the girls worked to finish their 1,000 cranes before a 10 p.m. deadline, Ahn said.

"We even had a crane hospital," he said, adding experienced crane creators helped resurrect "crazy, mangled attempts at crane-making that went awry."

Currently hanging by clothespins on a line draped across the fireplace mantle at the Girl Scout's headquarters, the cranes will be sent to Japan in the next few days, Ahn said.

"My hope is that the cranes will lift their spirits and give encouragement," said 13-year old Anica Mathisen.

Those who would like to donate, and also learn how to make an origami crane, can head over to Three Rivers Hospital at 500 S.W. Ramsey Ave. in Grants Pass from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Friday, said Jameson.

"People are paying to learn how to make paper cranes," she said. "We're going to try to make 1,000 cranes."

Reach reporter Sanne Specht at 541-776-4497 or e-mail sspecht@mailtribune.com.



Reader Reaction
We reserve the right to remove any content at any time from this Community, including without limitation if it violates the Community Rules. We ask that you report content that you in good faith believe violates the above rules by clicking the Flag link next to the offending comment or fill out this form. New comments are only accepted for two weeks from the date of publication.
COUPON OF THE WEEK