Bay Area Telethon Raises $417,000

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SAN FRANCISCO — Bay Area viewers and the local community donated more than $417,000 to the Northern Japan Earthquake Relief Fund during the NBC Bay Area Telethon held March 18.

Phone banks opened at 6:30 a.m. and closed at midnight at the Japanese Cultural and Community Center of Northern California (JCCCNC) in San Francisco with volunteers from the Japanese American and local community answering phones to help facilitate phone-in credit card donations. People who would still like to donate may still call the direct relief fund line at (415) 529-1322.

Among those who stopped by JCCCNC to support the fundraising efforts were San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee, Board of Supervisors President David Chiu, Supervisor Ross Mirkarimi (whose district includes Japantown), Causes CEO Joe Green, and Consul General Hiroshi Inomata, who thanked the Bay Area for the outpouring of support and donations for survivors of the devastating earthquake and tsunami in Japan.

“We would like to thank NBC Bay Area News and Comcast for donating their time and resources to help with this telethon,” said JCCCNC Executive Director Paul Osaki. “Without their support, we wouldn’t be able to host this telethon to improve outreach and raise critical funds that are in dire need in Japan. The outpouring of support and concern was truly incredible.”

Phone bank volunteers included some recognizable names, such as broadcast journalists James Hattori, Wendy Tokuda, and Jan Yanehiro; playwright Philip Kan Gotanda and wife Diane Takei Gotanda; and journalist/author/radio personality Ben Fong Torres.

Since fundraising began, the Northern Japan Earthquake Relief Fund has raised close to $700,000 through online donations via www.causes.com and from individuals, businesses and organizations.  Some of the supporting organizations include Clarendon Alternative Elementary School in San Francisco, Kristi Yamaguchi’s Always Dream Foundation, the San Francisco Giants, the law firm of Minami Tamaki LLP, Salesforce.com Foundation, Asian American Bar Association, Florin JACL, Japantown Merchants Association, Japanese Community Youth Council, Marysville JACL, Northern California Cherry Blossom Festival, San Francisco JACL, The Henri and Tomoye Takahashi Charitable Foundation, and Watsonville-Santa Cruz JACL.

All funds received by JCCCNC will go directly to the people in the Tohoku region of northern Japan most affected by the natural disasters of March 11. Donations will be made to citizen relief efforts through the National YMCAs of Japan and other non-governmental organizations that have a long history with JCCCNC because of joint relief efforts in 1995 after the Kobe earthquake.

All agencies have agreed that no administrative fees will be taken so that donations can benefit those who need it most. Funds already sent to Japan are going to support two temporary shelters and three child-care centers in the affected areas.

The Northern Japan Earthquake Relief Fund has a three-fold plan over the next several months:

• Relief (meeting immediate life saving and survival needs)

• Recovery (sustainability, temporary shelters, post-traumatic stress counseling, supplies for children, families, and seniors)

• Rebuilding (community and neighborhood capital and improvement projects and programs)

In 1995, JCCCNC raised more than $600,000 towards citizen relief efforts in Kobe that helped supply food, water, clothing, and supplies. Donors also helped to rebuild orphanages in Kobe, which still have ties to JCCCNC.

The Northern Japan Earthquake Relief Fund is part of a larger coordinated earthquake and tsunami relief response from the Japanese American community through the entire Bay Area.

Online donations can be made at www.jcccnc.org, where updates will also be posted.  Checks are also being accepted; they can be made out to “Northern Japan Earthquake Relief Fund” and sent to JCCCNC, 1840 Sutter St., San Francisco, CA 94115.  JCCCNC is a 501(C)(3) organization, so donations are tax-deductible to the extent of the law.

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