MC community raises more than $13,000 for orphans in Japan

July 6, 2011
Contact: Karen B. Eldridge, Director of Communications

In the weeks following the March 11 earthquake and tsunami in Japan, the Maryville College community has raised more than $13,000 for orphans of the disaster that rocked the island nation.

Led by Maryville College freshman and international student Ayaka Ito and Rikako Kirihara, a part-time Maryville College student and wife of a DENSO Manufacturing Tennessee Inc., employee, most of the fundraising was accomplished in conjunction with the East Tennessee Japanese School through a car wash, rummage sale and silent auction that featured donations of paintings, drawings and photographs from people in the community.

The pair also set up 12 donation boxes around Blount County.

Ito, whose parents live outside Tokyo, shared with the media her story of using Skype, a software application that allows users to make voice calls and chat over the Internet, to communicate to her parents that each one was OK in the hours following the earthquake.

While her family and friends suffered little damage to their homes and businesses, Ito was moved to help those residents of her country who were not so fortunate. Organizing fundraisers and speaking to groups about Japan’s needs helped her feel like she was contributing to her country’s recovery even though she was thousands of miles from home.

Weeks after the disaster, Ito told the Daily Times: “We’re asking for donations, but the goal is to make sure that people don’t forget. The Japanese people are suffering from great trauma.

“… We shouldn’t forget the human tragedy. Whole cities have been completely devastated, and it’s going to take 30-40 years to rebuild. We’re collecting donations for the first time, but they’ll need long-term support.”