MARINE CORPS AIR STATION IWAKUNI, Japan --
Station personnel volunteered to collect donations at the Marine Corps Exchange, Commissary and the Thrift Store here Saturday and Sunday for the humanitarian relief effort.
A private organization spearheaded the effort in gathering volunteers to help gather needed supplies for disaster victims in northern Japan.
The Thrift Store was the hub for the donations to be sent, sorted, labeled and packaged.
“This was a collaborative effort,” Gwen Peterson, Thrift Store manager, said.
Thrift Store and other personnel contacted different organizations and got the word out to the community that they were joining forces and help ing collect supplies all together.
Several organizations came forward to further help with the relief effort. Some of the organizations that helped were the Japanese and American Society, Matthew C. Perry High School and the local Boy Scouts of America troop 77.
“The scouts, both the cub pack and the troop, have supported this effort 100 percent,” said Joel Eittreim, cub master and committee member for troop 77. “The staff and scouts have come over to the Commissary to spend anywhere from one to three hours of their time helping to organize and load the supplies that have been dropped off and send them to the thrift store to be sorted, boxed and shipped to where they are needed.”
Two hundred and fifty eight volunteers from the station community have helped collect, package and ship more than 1,525 boxes of supplies including 50 sleeping bags, 13 sleeping mats, more than 1,480 bottles of water, 1,040 diapers, along with a variety of canned foods and toiletries and 8,265 pounds of donated items to logistics.
With snow still falling in some parts of the devastated northern Japan and victims without much clothing, the Thrift Store packaged a good portion of its winter attire as well.
Money donations can be sent to the Red Cross on station or online.
“(The victims) have no food and no clothing,” said Lt. Robert Mills, acting command chaplain for MCAS Iwakuni. “We’re trying to get as much up to them as we can as quickly as we can.”
More supplies will be needed and the collecting is not scheduled to stop in the near future.
“We’re here as neighbors and here as a community,” said Lt. j.g. Bruce West, a Headquarters and Headquarters Squadron chaplain. “We’ll continue to give and continue to send supplies forward. Meeting that urgent need was the most important concern to address, but as time goes on more and more supplies will be needed.”
For those who wish to make donations, the needed items can be dropped off at the Thrift Store and need to be specifically labeled for the relief effort.