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Helping hands

ONU students support Japanese disaster relief and each other


On the morning of March 11, Japanese students studying at Ohio Northern University woke to the news that their country had been devastated by an earthquake and tsunami. Despite being more than 9,000 miles away, the students set out to help by organizing their own disaster relief fundraiser on campus and the university community has responded with their generosity.

With the help of the ONU International Services offices, organizational meetings were held with the 17 Japanese students at ONU. The university primary focus was to help students stay informed and possibly deal with emotional stress from seeing their homeland in shambles. However, from these meetings the students decided they wanted to help by collecting donations for the Red Cross.    

According to International Services Coordinator Ryan Radebaugh, the students spent every night the past week organizing the fundraiser. They made posters and ordered wristbands for students who gave donations of $3 or more. 

“Although they are so far away from friends and family, they don’t feel so powerless when they are doing something to help the cause. The students worked quickly to get the information out there while the tsunami and earthquake were still fresh in peoples minds,” said Radebaugh.

The support that these students have received from the ONU community has certainly made an impression on the Japanese students. 

“It is nice to see the support. Many people who pass us standing in McIntosh stop by to ask about our families, ask how we are dealing with the disaster and let us know that they are continuing to pray for us,” said Takeai Murakami, a senior marketing major.

Caitlin Munro, a freshman pharmacy student from Lawrenceville, Ga., approached the students to make a donation. However, before she even donated, she asked Murakami and Nanami Akiyama, a freshman environmental studies major, how they were handling the disaster and how they’re families were doing. When asked why she was making a donation Munro replied, “It’s just the right thing to do.”

In addition to the emotional support, the financial support has been generous.  As of Friday, March 18, more than $1,000 had been raised and over 100 people are expected to receive wristbands.

Takeaki Murakami says that he hopes that the wristbands will not only help to raise additional awareness and support for Japan, but help students and faculty to remember the disaster that happened as well. 

Donation boxes have also been placed at both Northern On Main and Dining Services to give people additional opportunities to donate, and the music department will have a collection box outside Presser Snyder Recital Hall until the end of spring quarter or donations to the Red Cross.

UPDATE: The ONU community raised $5100.76, which will be sent to the American Red Cross. "To represent Japanese students at Ohio Northern University, I would like to thank for those who kindly donated to Japan's earthquake relief. Thank you very much for your generosity,"  said Saki Morikawa.

—Katie Hozan
Homerville, Ohio