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Paper Cranes for Japan

March 31, 2011
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04/01/11  The entire world is concerned about the devastation and tragedy that has overcome Japan in the past several weeks.  Many of us feel so far away from it and other than prayers we wonder what we can do to help.  Local Plymouth resident with ties to Japan has found a way those of us in Plymouth can help with a united effort. 

Christy Graham was born in Japan to Miki Nakamura and Paul Graham while her father was stationed there during the service.  Christy and her two brothers spent their childhood traveling between Japan and the United States while her father was stationed at different naval bases. Christy’s Japanese home was in the town of Nagai where fishing was the main source of income. 

Upon coming to Plymouth Christy has made many friends and is employed by Miller’s Senior Living Community.  She is contentedly rearing her four-year old son, Max and is enjoying life.  When she awoke on the morning of March, 11 and heard the news of the massive earthquake and tsunami that struck Japan her first thoughts were of her mother, grandfather, and uncle who still live there.  She immediately tried to contact them.  It took several hours before she knew that they were alive and well.  Christy’s family lives approximately four and a half hours from where the tsunami hit. They are safe for now, however food and water supplies are becoming more and more sparse.   

Feeling helpless, Christy stumbled upon a website talking about ways in which groups of school children were helping with Japan’s reconstruction effort.  Students Rebuild has partnered with DoSomthing.org on “Paper Cranes for Japan”. 

Japanese children learn to make origami paper cranes when they are very young and in elementary school.  A thousand paper cranes are traditionally given as a wedding gift or a baby gift by the folder, who is wishing a thousand years of happiness and prosperity to the recipient. 

School children from the United States are making origami cranes for their peers in Japan.  It started as a way to show support.  However, the Bezos Family Foundation has stepped in and has agreed to donate $2.00 for each crane received. Their goal is 100,000 paper cranes. The money will go to the Architecture for Humanity’s reconstruction effort.  Once the goal of 100,000 submissions is achieved the cranes will be woven into an art installation – a symbolic gift from people around the world to the Japanese.

Remembering the pleasure of making the cranes of her youth, Christy sat down and started folding.  She then approached her fellow co-workers at Miller’s Senior Living Community and asked if they would like to help.  Activity Director Cindy Flagg suggested taking things a step further and asked Graham if she could teach the residents to make the cranes.  Together they decided they would offer an origami crane class to the public and Miller’s would be a drop off point for “Paper Cranes for Japan”.

Two origami crane classes will be offered at Miller’s Senior Living Community next week for anyone, any age interested in help with the cause.  Class dates and times are Tuesday, April 5th at 3:30 p.m. and Saturday, April 9th at 10:00 a.m.  Classes are open to any age however children must be accompanied by an adult.  Paper will be supplied for the class.  No other supplies are needed.  RSVP for the origami class of your choice by calling 574-936-9801 and ask for Cindy Flagg.

Anyone who is already making paper cranes may drop them off at Miller’s Senior Living Community, 625 W. Oakhill Ave., Plymouth and they will be sent to the “Paper Cranes For Japan” cause.

Photo:  Christy Graham instructs residents of Miller’s Senior Living Community in the proper folding of an origami paper crane.  Left to right are:  Dorothy Millea, Katie Kaminski, Graham, June Koss.

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