Students, Local Merchants Help Donate to Relief Effort for Japan

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As the death toll in Japan continues to rise and victims of last week's 8.9 magnitude earthquake and tsunami remain uncertain as to when they will be able to return to their homes, Berkeley students and residents are organizing efforts to provide relief for the victims.

Over the next few weeks, campus clubs and city of Berkeley merchants will continue raising money for relief groups overseas through events, bake sales and donations.

Samin Nosrat, co-founder of Pop-Up General Store and a former employee of The Daily Californian, is organizing the "Bakesale for Japan," where she and other community members will sell baked goods in at least four locations throughout the Bay Area on April 2. Nosrat, who has organized several bake sales to support victims of natural disasters - including one project that raised over $23,000 for Haiti earthquake relief last year - said she hopes to expand the bake sale to the national level and raise $100,000 for Japan.

"At the heart of it, food creates connections at a moment like this when people need it," Nosrat said. "Bringing people together with an intention to do good work is really powerful, and already in about three days, it's gotten so much momentum."

Jo Medeiros, events coordinator for Saturn Cafe in Downtown Berkeley, said the cafe will charge $5 at the door for its Thursday night community arts show this week - which is usually free - and will donate all proceeds from to Doctors Without Borders.

Similarly, the club Shattuck Down Low in Downtown donated Saturday night's profits of $525 to the American Red Cross - which was chosen as the recipient by the club's guests - according to General Manager Nick White, who said the club hopes to give more of their profits to relief groups through additional nights like this.

Several student groups on campus, including the Cal Japan Club, American Red Cross at Cal and the Nikkei Student Union, are in the process of planning events to raise relief money after the campus' spring break next week, in addition to tabling on Upper Sproul Plaza for donations.

At a Cal Japan Club meeting Tuesday, members discussed the possibility of hosting an event in the Unit 2 courtyard.

"Selling food is our main idea right now," said Hazuki Inoue, club president. "We would like to invite student groups who can sell something and performance groups to attract people to come."

Both the Red Cross at Cal and the Cal Origami Club are also planning to independently make 1,000 paper cranes, a Japanese tradition and symbol of hope - to show their support and solidarity for the victims.


Contact Jessica Rossoni at [email protected]

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