At least twice during the past decade — after the terror attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, and when Hurricane Katrina ravaged the Gulf Coast in 2005 — the people of Japan have sent money and rescue personnel to the United States, a Red Cross executive said Tuesday.
Wynn Stephens, director of development at the Bluegrass Chapter of the American Red Cross, said Japan is a nation deeply schooled in disaster relief because of its weather and earthquake history. But the Japanese still need help from Americans after the wave of disasters this past week, he said.
But don't send blankets and clothing.
Stephens said people have offered to donate such items. Those offers are well-intentioned and hard to turn down, but the cost of cataloging, warehousing and shipping blankets and clothing to Japan is not a wise use of money, he said. It is better to buy those things in parts of Japan unaffected by the disaster.
That's why financial contributions are more useful.
One way to help financially without actually giving any money is by donating blood this week at the Kentucky Blood Center. Donors will have their choice of receiving T-shirts or having the shirts' value earmarked for Japanese relief efforts. The money will be given to the Salvation Army and American Red Cross, organizations that are working in the devastated country.
The Japanese-American Society of Kentucky also is collecting money for earthquake and tsunami relief.
Executive director Matt Krebs said the society, made up of 200 corporations, is accepting money for a project the board of directors will choose later as "the most meaningful and where the dollars will have maximum effectiveness. We are asking people to trust us to decide what is best there."
Also on Tuesday, state Rep. Steve Riggs, D-Jeffersontown, filed a formal resolution asking Kentuckians to reach out and assist those devastated by the ongoing tragedy in Japan.