JACL, API Legislators Urge Donations to Relief/Recovery Fund

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SACRAMENTO — The Japanese American Citizens League and Direct Relief International, in promoting their relief efforts for the people of Japan affected by the devastating earthquake and tsunami, participated in a press conference with Asian American Pacific Islander (AAPI) state legislators and others at the State Capitol in Sacramento on March 24.

Assembly Speaker John Perez (D-Los Angeles) and the Asian Pacific Islander Legislative Caucus joined the JACL and Direct Relief to detail the efforts being mobilized by public and private entities in California to help the people of Japan. Representatives from Cost Plus World Market and Thousand Oaks-based Amgen were also on hand to announce their financial support.

The Japan Relief and Recovery Fund has been established by Direct Relief and the JACL to be used solely and exclusively for Japan.

The speakers encouraged all Californians to lend a hand during Japan’s time of need. Already the Japan Relief and Recovery Fund includes $1.7 million in financial support and millions made available in medical supplies, with $400,000 having been sent to a local organization in Japan that focuses on helping displaced elderly and disabled persons.

“Japan is clearly experiencing a disaster of epic proportions,” said Perez. “As Californians, we have had our share of natural disasters, and we understand how horrific the cost can be — not just in dollars and cents, but in human terms. The people of California stand with the people of Japan in their hour of crisis. We understand intimately what Japan is going through, and the long, difficult road to recovery they must now take.”

“I am pleased to be a part this very important announcement describing the statewide efforts to help the people of Japan,” said Assemblymember Das Williams (D-Santa Barbara). “It is also great to see that this is something that is being spearheaded from the Central Coast.”

“The natural disasters in Japan have taken a devastating toll, not just on the Japanese community, but the worldwide human family,” stated Assemblymember Warren Furutani (D-South Los Angeles County). “We all have a responsibility to do everything we can to help our brothers and sisters in Japan. I encourage all Californians to contribute and assist the relief efforts.”

“It’s so encouraging to see people, businesses, political leaders, civic organizations of all types and communities in California come together in a time of challenges for our own state, to help the people in Japan who are facing unimaginable hardship,” said Thomas Tighe, president and CEO of Direct Relief International, which is utilizing its extensive experience responding to large-scale emergencies, including the Indian Ocean tsunami of 2004 and last year’s earthquake in Haiti.

“We are happy for this opportunity to partner with a superior organization such as Direct Relief, whose record of efficiency is second to none,” said Floyd Mori, JACL national executive director. “Many of our collaborative human and civil rights organizations will be supporting this relief effort.  We are pleased to provide an avenue for funds that will go directly to help stricken victims of the disaster, many who are friends and family to our membership.”

“Amgen chose to support Direct Relief International because of their proven abilities to partner with local agencies to respond to large-scale relief efforts. Our thoughts remain with the people of Japan, whose strength and resiliency throughout this tragedy have been an inspiration to us all,” said Jean Lim Terra, president of the Amgen Foundation, which announced its donation of $500,000 to DRI.

“Cost Plus World Market has a decades-long history of working with Japanese artisans and companies. It is important for the company to do our part to help those in need. Our hearts and prayers go out to those impacted by this devastating event,” said Barry Feld, president and CEO of Cost Plus World Market, which will donate 100 percent of its net proceeds of sales of all products produced in Japan to DRI.

“I am honored and privileged to have served as Direct Relief’s general counsel for the past five years,” said Michelle Lee Pickett of Brownstein Hyatt Farber Schreck. “During this time, I have witnessed the collaborative efforts of Direct Relief with different organizations and the impact these partnerships have on their communities. We hope that DRI’s partnership with JACL, Amgen and Cost Plus World Market will be able to help those in need in Japan. It is only with the support of my law firm … that my efforts are provided on a pro bono basis.”

Last week, it was announced that a number of NBA players are participating in the Japan Relief and Recovery Fund by donating $1,000 for each point earned in games played from this past weekend, March 25-27. Two of those players, the Lakers’ Pau Gasol and the Bulls’ Derrick Rose, scored 26 points and 23 points, respectively, on the first designated night.

Magic Johnson has said that he would match Gasol’s $1,000 per point. Other players participating in this fundraising effort include LaMarcus Aldridge, Marc Gasol, Al Horford, JaVale McGee and Russell Westbrook.

Players who have committed a set donation include DJ Augustin, Jarron Collins, Jason Collins, Mike Durleavy Jr., Tyreke Evans, Darillo Gallinari, Xavier Henry, Antawn Jamison, Jason Kapono, Quincy Pondexter, Brian scalabrine, Etan Thomas and Ben Wallace.

Donations may be made to the Japan Relief and Recovery Fund by visiting www.JACL.org or by sending a check with “JACL” written in the memo line to: Direct Relief International, 27 S. La Patera Lane, Santa Barbara, CA 93117.

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