SADD, Red Cross team up to help tsunami victims in Japan

Karen Pipek and Lesley Wright, Roar Staff reporters

As an 8.9 magnitude earthquake followed by a 23-foot tsunami and nuclear explosions hit Japan on March 1, sophomore Caroline Baney and her family happened to be playing host to a group of Japanese college students.

“There are five people [staying at our house] from all over [Japan],” Baney said. “One is from Tokyo and the others are from some of the small islands on the side.”

All of the students have been affected by the earthquake in some way.

“They have limited communication and all have lost some type of physical structure,” Baney said.

Eighth-grader Hana Bilicki has family members in Japan but they have not been nearly as affected by the earthquake.

“Nothing too bad happened [to their house], but it was shaking really badly,” Bilicki said. “They had to stay underneath tables the whole day while my uncle was stuck in the city because none of the trains were working.”

Bilicki says anyone can help out with relief efforts, even students.

“I think West Shore should try to get a fund-raiser together to help the victims,” Bilicki said. “We should encourage everyone to help out.”

Seventh-grade language arts teacher Susan Woyshner has done just that, joining her Students Against Destructive Decisions club with the Brevard County Red Cross to help raise money for Japanese earthquake and tsunami victims.

“The Red Cross approached West Shore because March is their month to raise and donate money, and their goal was to raise $1000, from students, teachers and businesses,” she said. “If we raise the $1000, West Shore will be recognized as a hero by the Red Cross.”

This fund-raising idea fell in the same time frame as the Japanese earthquake.

“We had set these goals and dates before the earthquake happened, and it works out well because West Shore can decide where the money is donated. The first-period class that donates the most money will receive a doughnut and juice party.”

During first-period classes on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday SADD will show a one-minute ad as a reminder for the relief effort.

Senior Heather Stewart also hopes to start a fund-raiser for Japan.

“I need to get in contact with the Red Cross and see what exactly is needed in Japan,” Stewart said. “[Science teacher Paula] Ladd has agreed to sponsor the fund-raiser already.”

According to Baney, the U.S. news is portraying the disaster just as it has happened.

“We have watched [Japan’s] news and it is held very true in American news,” Baney said. “The media is as accurate as possible.”

Bilicki’s plans to visit Japan, as she does every summer, have now changed.

“My grandparents and uncle live in Tokyo, [so] during the summer I attend the local school there and I just live life normally because I have done this my whole life,” Bilicki said. “I can speak, read and write Japanese.”

Now Bilicki is not sure as to when she will see her extended family again.

“My grandma was planning on visiting, but now we don’t know,” Bilicki said. “It’s going to take a while for them to get everything back together, a lot of lives have been lost.”

For some families, the earthquake has impacted them greatly.

“The whole situation is really tragic,” Bilicki said. “Now it’s hard to reach my family there because the telephone lines are busy with everyone in the world trying to call Japan.”