However, Arizona native Kay McDonald is determined to keep the news alive.
“I wanted to do something that would keep people talking about it, so that the challenges being faced by the disaster victims would not be forgotten,” McDonald said.
More than 378,000 Japanese are living in harsh conditions at about 2,047 shelters located in the six prefectures of the Tohoku region that were affected by the disaster, according to the Asahi Shimbun. Many lost their homes due to the tsunami. Others evacuated from areas near the Dai-ichi and Daini power plants located 12 km apart in Fukushima prefecture, which is about 225 km northeast of Tokyo. Japan extended its evacuation zone April 11 beyond the 30 km radius around the Fukushima Dai-ichi plant because of high radiation levels. The plant has been spewing radiation since March 11.
In Arizona, McDonald, a former jewelry retailer and wholesale buyer, found a way she could help the victims in Japan and spread awareness about the continuing impact of the disaster through her company, Charity Charms. McDonald’s idea on helping Japan came while talking about the crisis.
“My cousin, who lives in Japan, and I were brainstorming about effective ways to raise money and keep the story of Japan’s challenges and triumphs alive,” she said.
Various groups or individuals purchase bracelets, which are red and white, reflecting the colors of the Japanese flag, and oval charms that say For Japan, to help raise money while spreading knowledge about the disaster. Charity Charms is underwriting all costs in order to donate 100 percent of net proceeds to the U.S.-Japan Council earthquake.
“Wearing the charm bracelets creates opportunities for people to share their personal stories about the charities they support that are nearest and dearest to their hearts,” McDonald said. “It creates awareness for the particular cause, which is a powerful fund-raising tool.”
The creation of her company was the perfect marriage of McDonald’s two passions — fashion and compassion.
She created the company in 2004 as a way to make beautiful jewelry from iconic charity logos while reinforcing the branding of more than one charity. In fact, Charity Charms has raised millions of dollars for more than 250 charities throughout the world, including the American Diabetes Association, the March of Dimes and Goodwill.
Debbie Howard is a contributing writer and President Emeritus of the American Chamber of Commerce in Japan.