Cars lined up around Los Angeles City Hall on Thursday as volunteers helped to collect donations for victims of the ongoing crisis in Japan.
The fundraiser was organized by Councilmembers Jan Perry and Bernard Parks. Consul General Junichi Ihara and Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa stopped by to offer their support. An official with the American Red Cross said that as of 3 p.m., they had collected over $20,000.
“We are so grateful to the American people and the people all over the world for their support. It is so important for the Japanese people to know that we are not alone, that there are people who care about us,” Ihara said.
Darin Furukawa, 33, of Little Tokyo, dressed in samurai armor and helped to collect donations all day. A memorial vigil was planned for later in the evening.
“I got an email that the councilmembers were organizing this event, so I decided that this is the least I could do, to come out and support Japan,” said Furukawa.
Perry explained that she and Parks had also organized similar donation drives following the earthquake in Haiti and Hurricane Katrina. She noted they both felt a special affinity because their districts include many Japanese Americans.
“We live in a Pacific Rim area too, so it affects us directly,” said Perry, whose district includes Little Tokyo. “In the face of devastation, people can pull together and work as a team.”
Parks’ district includes the Crenshaw area.