“The most severe crisis since the war ended 65 years ago” was quite a chilling quote from Prime Minister Naoto Kan. Images of the devastation pictured on the news are likely what you experience these days when you first awake or shortly thereafter. But nonprofit organizations and charities all over the world are responding with rapid and selfless aid.
A nonprofit organization (NPO also known as not-for-profit) does not distribute its surplus funds or ‘profit’ among its owners or shareholders. It uses this surplus of funds to follow the organizations goals in which most of the time consist of helping individuals or a local community.
Of course the U.S. government has responded to the relief effort with troops, aid workers, rescue equipment, and humanitarian supplies but that’s their job. The non-governmental organizations (NGOs), such as the nonprofits, have been scrambling since before the first aftershock hit Japan. Now that the devastation is hopefully over, it’s time to recover.
Tennesseans have shown their support from the beginning. With an outpouring of support and prayers all directed to people they don’t know. When they see the devastation in pictures and video or read about it in articles like this one, all Tennesseans have one thing in common…their hearts fill with sorrow for the Japanese families who will now have to mourn their dead and start trying to rebuild their lives with whatever memories and whatever possessions they have left.
Deputy Consul General Shigenobu Kobayashi said in a report with WKRN News 2 that there has been a major outpouring of support from Tennesseans. He said, “I would like to express my appreciation for your kindness for the people of the United States and the people of Tennessee. I have received many inquiries and messages of condolences over the earthquake in Japan.”
The Consulate General of Japan offices are located in Nashville and serve five states. They said that they have been flooded with calls in response to the tragedy.
“You couldn’t imagine if it happened here,” said Sam Davidson, the founder of the Nashville-based nonprofit organization Cool People Care. “We learned a lot in terms of how a community can offer support,” said Davidson. “And so we’re looking to just leverage that same community to say, ‘Something bad is happening somewhere else, and what can we do to help that.’” The group has decided to donate proceeds from its “Love Your Neighbor” line of T-shirts, stickers and posters to the relief effort in Japan.
Sam Davidson’s brain child started in May of 2006 when returning from a trip to Washington, D.C. to attend a rally, feeling motivated to do something meaningful, he met up with his friend and colleague, Stephen Moseley.
The two believed that if enough people care for five minutes a day, something positive might result. Two hours later the core of Cool People Care’s website was in place. The site officially launched on August 17, 2006 and the rest is history.
The website consists of five minute 99 word articles of how to save the world and if you want to read more or have more time, there is also a section with longer how-to articles, a community calendar, and a nonprofit directory of Nashville, Tennessee. After the website opened, the company began selling merchandise and building their brand.
Over three years later, the site has listed more than 6,100 events in their online calendar, partnered with more than 2,300 nonprofit organizations, and has been visited by people in more than 150 countries! http://store.coolpeoplecare.org/collections/love-your-neighbor
Nashville is not only the home to the Grand Ole Opry; it’s also the home to some of the nation’s best nonprofit and charitable organizations. For instance, who out there provides shoes for the survivors of these tragedies? To be able to rebuild and clean up the destruction, people must have shoes to walk around in the broken glass and debris. Well, as Soles 4 Souls’ founder Wayne Elsey says, “Look, there’s a brighter day. There’s a new future out there for you.”
Soles 4 Souls is a Nashville-based charity that collects shoes from the warehouses of footwear companies and from personal donations. The group is a 501(c) (3) recognized by the IRS which gives tax advantages to donating parties.
Soles 4 Souls coordinated relief efforts for the Asian Tsunami and hurricanes Katrina and Rita. The team originally operated as www.katrinashoes.organd netted over 1 million pairs donated for these disasters. The group has launched a campaign aimed at donating a half million pairs of shoes to Japan for the relief effort. Elsey said, “What we’re going to do is offer them a lot of work footwear to help the workers be comfortable and rebuild the country.” Soles 4 Souls has donated approximately 13.5 million shoes to 127 countries around the world to date!
Also, the designers that brought you Nashville Flood Tees (that today has given over $200,000 to flood relief in the Middle Tennessee Area!) have a new brain child. It’s called My Shirt Helps and they have designed a shirt that will hopefully help in the relief. The raised funds will be going to the International Medical Corps, Save the Children, and Samaritan’s Purse. Other merchandise is also available at www.myshirthelps.com.
The annual Nashville Cherry Blossom Festival on March 26, 2011 is being renamed the Cherry Blossom Japan Relief Event in the wake of the disaster in Japan. The Nashville event is free from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. at downtown’s Public Square in Nashville and will begin with a “Cherry Blossom Solidarity Walk” led by Mayor Karl Dean and Consul General of Japan Hiroshi Sato. All Proceeds from the event will go to the Tennessee Tomodachi Fund, which will direct the funds to Japanese relief groups.
There are also many ways for individuals and families to help. Google has deployed its People Finder to help find missing family members and also has lots of contact information for other nonprofit organizations and charities helping out in this disaster. You can text “redcross” to 90999 to make a $10 donation to the American Red Cross or text “japan” or “quake” to 80888 to donate $10 to the Salvation Army. But be cautious when giving to charities that you don’t know, there are charity scammers out there who will take your money for themselves.
“If you decide to donate money to the Japanese tsunami relief effort, you would want your money to go where it can do the most good to help victims and their families,” said Washington State secretary of State, Sam Reed. “So we encourage you to check before you give by doing your homework on the charities asking for your money. We don’t want scammers to benefit from this tragedy.” The public can go to www.nashville.bbb.org to research charities and relief organizations to verify that they are legit.