Japan’s littlest residents living in shelters will soon be sleeping better, thanks to the U.S.-based Binky Patrol. Tens of thousands of Japanese are staying in shelters following the earthquake and ensuing tsunami that wreaked havoc across northeast Japan’s coastal cities in March.
Binky Patrol is a non-profit organization with more than 20,000 volunteers who make and distribute blankets to children born HIV-positive, drug-addicted, infected with AIDS or other chronic or terminal illnesses, as well as those who are abused, in foster care, or experiencing trauma of any kind. Volunteers recently rallied to sew, knit, crochet, and quilt 1,100 blankets in less than a month for the earthquake’s youngest victims. The thousand-blanket shipment departed April 30 with more expected.
Blankets ranged in size from three-feet square up to twin-bed sizes, some with notes of hope and love written in Japanese. One woman was only able to make one quilt because she developed severe arthritis and could no longer quilt. But she wanted to donate it to the Japanese. One-second grade classroom drew self portraits on a squares of fabric and the teacher made it into a quilt. The love that went into these quilts was indescribable, noted Finch.
“As typical style when any type of large disaster hits, our forum posts flyers with brainstorming ideas of how we could help the affected region,” said Susan Finch, who founded Binky Patrol at Laguna Beach, Calif. in 1996. “One chapter leader spearheaded the Japanese campaign because she had connections to get the blankets to Japan for free.”
Another California Binky Patrol chapter leader contacted the owner of Calico House Quilting, who reached out to her 5,000 quilting customers, challenging them to make 1,000 blankets by May 31. Challenge sent, challenge met. The Calico House Quilting connections contributed about 750 of the 1,100 quilts sent to Japan, and the Vacaville Binky Patrol chapter donated 300 blankets.
“People have been very generous and have made an extra effort because of the horrific nature of this disaster,” said Helen Downing, a co-leader of the La Habra, Calif. Chapter. “I feel very strongly the quilts needed to go to Japan.”
While it was amazingly easy to collect 1,100 blankets, it was much more challenging, logistically, to get them to Japan. The campaign hit a snag when the original transportation plan fell through. Desperate to get the blankets to Japan, Finch posted a request for help to her numerous Facebook and Twitter groups, but no results. Then, she posted her request for help on a private Yahoo! group she belongs to called South County PR. South County PR is an Orange County, Calif.-based business-networking group of public relations and marketing professionals.
“Within minutes of my South County post, ideas were coming in,” Finch said. “Through the Japanese Consulate, I was given the name of the president of the Shin Koyamada Foundation, Shoichi Nakagiri, who gave me a contact at the J. Trading Logistics Corp. in Compton, Calif. The company (J. Trading Logistics Corp.) was willing to ship all the quilts if we delivered them in bags.”
Shin Koyamada Foundation, with headquarters in Los Angeles and Tokyo, is a non-profit organization promoting an earth-friendly lifestyle, whose mission is to empower youth to achieve their goals and dreams. J. Trading Logistics Corp. purchases U.S. vehicles and exports them overseas.
Additionally, Finch said the Shin Koyamada Foundation has a base station in Yokohama, Japan, which will arrange for the blankets to be delivered to the earthquake victims.
“We make blankets and give them away to children in need of comfort,” Finch said. “It’s as simple as that.”
A seasoned writer, Walther has been a reporter, columnist, and photographer for several daily newspapers. Her byline has appeared in more than two-dozen publications encompassing more than 1,000 articles.
Link to Binky Patrol: http://pinkypatrol.org