Japanese disaster victims need cash, not supplies, Red Cross says

The first photos from Japan were unbelievable — the bucking ground, the inexorable water, the billowing smoke. The ones that followed were, unfortunately, believable and awful, the scope of the tragedy etched in the faces of those who lost people they loved, who ran from the water and the radiation, who have nowhere to go now.

The impulse is to speed to Safeway and buy cases of water for them, to rush home and gather armfuls of blankets, to scoop cans of food into shipping boxes. It’s a wonderful impulse, the human impulse, but what the people of Japan most need right now is financial help, said Eric Myers, emergency services program manager for the American Red Cross Western Colorado Chapter.

“That’s really what the Japanese Red Cross has requested from the American Red Cross,” he said. “They’re not really looking for supplies or food or water or volunteers to come over. Right now they’re looking for financial assistance.”

So, locally and at the state and national level, the American Red Cross is collecting money and already has sent $10 million to the Japanese Red Cross, Myers said. Immediately after the earthquake and tsunami struck Friday, he said, people began calling and coming to the American Red Cross office at 506 Gunnison Ave., asking how they could help. And the biggest help right now is a generously open wallet.

“The message out there is to donate financially, just because of the sheer logistical burden of trying to get supplies and blankets and water overseas,” he said.

During international crises, he said, the American Red Cross generally takes a supporting role to the International Red Cross and Red Crescent. A focus of the organization, he said, is for each chapter and national organization to plan to respond to disasters as they happen in their own areas, unless that country is economically unequipped to prepare or respond, such as when the earthquake hit Haiti last year. In those cases, international organizations respond.

Local, national and international organizations have rallied to help Japan, including the Salvation Army.

In this area, those wanting to help with Japanese recovery efforts can donate through the American Red Cross and the Salvation Army. People can stop by those organizations’ offices, visit http://www.coloradoredcross.org or http://www.salvationarmyusa.org or text REDCROSS to 90999 or “Japan” or “Quake” to 80888. Both of those texts, the latter of which is to the Salvation Army, will donate $10 to relief efforts.


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