Japan in Crisis: Central Illinois Organizations Provide Relief Across the Globe

Japanese citizens affected by the tsunami and earthquake were greeted with humanitarian efforts to alleviate basic needs concerns, due to other areas of the world donating funds to the cause. Following the catastrophe, horror and panic shown across television screens, discussed on radio programs, and plastered throughout newspapers made Japan a major focal point with global media coverage. Even Japan’s weather has affected those suffering, for the fear of hypothermia with no homes to go to, while homes available are lacking essential needs for survival. The added strife involving radiation stemming from a nuclear reactor has made mass media headlines over the days and hours since the occurrence. The devastation left by the recent combination of events in Japan has given many Central Illinois citizens a wholehearted reason to give financial assistance.

When considering options to donate, many people have chosen to use phone texting or the internet as ways to give a few dollars to such a worthwhile cause. Two Peoria based associations, the American Red Cross and the Salvation Army provide means for the public to give support during difficult disasters like Japan’s tragedy. The Salvation Army Emergency Disaster bulletin states, “The Salvation Army’s focus is on continuing to provide for the immediate needs of survivors but long-term plans are being developed … The Salvation Army in Japan had three service relief teams operating in impacted areas and carried out distribution of supplies in Sendai…The teams have been recognized by the Japanese government and given access to access roads and areas currently closed off to the general public.”

Without these groups all over the map, painful situations like Japan’s recent misfortune would not be handled with help during dire circumstances. According to the Red Cross website, “The earthquake triggered fires and caused severe damage to buildings, leaving five million households without electricity and 1 million without water. Early assessments indicate that more than 2,500 houses have collapsed completely, with 2,500 more damaged.” In addition, over 10,000 people have been killed due to the disaster, which makes the efforts of outside assistance services necessary for the living. While the Japanese volunteers from groups are working in Japan, the American Red Cross offers diligent support. 2,000 shelters are currently available for Japanese citizens, while both the Japanese and American Red Cross have helped as support staff.

The Salvation Army already had distinct ties to Japan due to their years of service there, which makes them mainly focus on giving opportunities from afar. According to the Salvation Army’s Emergency Disaster Relief Bulletin, “The Salvation Army has had a presence in Japan since 1895 and is also mobilizing a significant international response to manage both immediate and long-term needs…The Salvation Army’s Korea Territory has arranged for the K-Water Corporation to provide 100,000 bottles of water to be sent to Japan—30,000 bottles by the end of the week.”

Representatives of both groups, the American Red Cross: Central Illinois Chapter’s Erin Miller, and the Salvation Army’s Rich Draeger, have been involved in keeping track of the donation process for Japan aid. Erin Miller, Communications Coordinator of the American Red Cross’ Central Illinois Chapter, assists in helping the general public understand the donation process. Her dedication and enthusiasm for her position at the Red Cross showcases her positive contact skills to the general public on disaster relief. Miller helps with many types of disaster communications, whether for local problems like fires or worldly emergencies that need manpower in affected areas. In her position, the major focus is helping people learn how to donate and to promote the Red Cross.

Miller states, “Basically, at this point, they are not differentiating between the two things that happened. We have the earthquake obviously that was exceptionally tragic and the amount of things that the Japanese Red Cross is doing is very costly. They have all these teams of medical professionals that are going out and the Japanese Red Cross runs a lot of the hospitals in Japan…they’re providing emergency relief supplies and they’re opening shelters, some of the things you see us doing here and a bit more. All of that costs money, whether its blankets, food and water…also going to the Pacific Tsunami relief. If we have collected enough money to take care of this, that money gets set aside in case there’s another disaster down the road.”

Miller remarks on the versatile ways in which you can donate by stating, “We’ve got a giving option on our website which is RedCrossIllinois.org and they can give to the earthquake and Pacific tsunami relief. On a national level you can text to give by texting the Red Cross to 90999. A ten dollar donation can be sent to the relief effort. Right now, we are just trying to make sure people have information. We update our website and we use social media…That’s pretty much what we’ve been doing here on a local level.” For those who don’t have access to technological devices, Miller suggests that, “(People) can always send a check to our office or they can stop in. But, they would need to specify what they want it to go for, that it’s going to the Japan earthquake or Pacific Tsunami relief…We want to make sure people know where their money is going.”

The option of bringing a check to the American Red Cross Central Illinois Chapter office at 311 West John Gwynn Jr. Avenue in Peoria, Illinois gives a people a chance to donate if technology isn’t available for them. The Red Cross’s Central Illinois Chapter also helps the Japanese citizens psychologically by providing counseling in the area via the disaster volunteers contacting on-call mental health support. They also provide location information via their website:

(http://www.redcrossillinois.org/news/locating-family-and-friends) to help citizens find their loved ones in America or Japan.

The Salvation Army’s Assistant Development Director of the Heartland Division, Rich Draeger, offers assistance for Japan both at home or on the globe. The office is located at 401 SW Adams Street in Peoria, Illinois. The group was established in 1865 by an evangelical part of the Universal Christian Church and has been supporting those in need for 130 years. Since 1906, the Salvation Army has been working within disaster relief services. The importance of donation is suggested in four different ways listed through their Emergency Disaster Bulletin: “…Four ways people can contribute money to the Salvation Army’s disaster relief efforts in Japan are: text the words “JAPAN” and “QUAKE” to 80888 to make a ten dollar donation, by phone: 1-800-SAL-ARMY, online at: http://donate.salvationarmyusa.org, (or) by mailing a check marked “Japan earthquake relief to: The Salvation Army World Service Office International Relief Fund, P.O. Box 630728, Baltimore, MD 21263-0728.”

The Salvation Army has totaled over $3,742,000.00 dollars in relief money thus far and does not accept any goods or household items (food, clothing, and medicine) from the general public for disaster relief. Draeger mentions, “Even if (people) send (a check) to their local Salvation Army (such as the Peoria, IL location), be sure to write “Japan relief” on it. We forward those on, for instance here, we probably get a couple checks a day…our finance department forwards them on …and sends them to the Baltimore office.” The Salvation Army is not as focused on technological efforts as the Red Cross, however, they are doing well with their text based and computer based offerings for donation.

Draeger states the importance of avoiding a particular e-mail scam that is going around for donation efforts. He states, “We do not solicit by e-mail, so if anyone should happen to get an e-mail from someone claiming to be the Salvation Army that’s not legitimate. And as always, anytime people are donating to us and they have a question, they get something that just doesn’t seem right, feel free to call us or their local Salvation Army and just ask if its legitimate or not.” He wants people to be aware that the four main ways of donating besides coming to the Peoria or any Salvation Army office are the best ways to donate.

Moreover, the Salvation Army also has resources working within Japan currently without having to send over needed volunteers to support those suffering because of the Japanese earthquake. Draeger states, “We already have an existing infrastructure (in Japan), so it’s not like we have to all of the sudden load people up and send them over there. We have the traditional army unit, which is a core community center; we have over 50 of those in Japan. So, we already have over 1,000 people on the ground there who are natives. We have folks from Korea who are close by who are able to help too.” Their response team, according to the Salvation Army’s pamphlet, “often the first relief agency on the scene, providing for the physical, spiritual, and emotional needs of the affected families and individuals.”

All in all, both the American Red Cross: Central Illinois Chapter and the Salvation Army provide a multitude of ways to donate assistance for Japan relief. Without their constant dedication as teams, the Japanese people would not have the access to needed medical supplies, food, shelter, and clothing that keep them living. The generosity and purpose of both the Red Cross and the Salvation Army make them unique groups creating positive results for those who they help. In the eyes of the general public, these acts make them truly collections of heroes for their efforts.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *