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New Yorkers Solicit Donations for Japan Relief

Monday, March 21, 2011

As rescue operations continue in Japan, New Yorkers are doing their part to help the victims of the devastating earthquake and tsunami.

Dorothy Liu and Kenji Furushiro manned the corner of Mott Street and Canal Street, in the heart of Chinatown, by soliciting donations for the Buddhist Tzu Chi Foundation.

The Taiwan-based organization, said Liu, has previously mobilized on disasters in El Salvador and Chile, and already has members on the ground in Japan.

"We give out the food, the vegetarian food and the blankets, and water too," said Liu, adding that the group was arranging housing for survivors as well.

Periodically, passers-by walked up to her and dropped dollar bills into the cardboard box hanging from her neck. The on-the-street effort, she said, was going "pretty well."

"We’re fundraising from the heart," she said.

Unlike Liu, Furushiro is not a regular member of the Foundation, but decided to spend the day volunteering.

"As a Japanese, I wanted to do something, I wanted to make a difference."

Despite the "awful" conditions in Japan, and his serious concerns about radioactive fallout, he says the support he's getting from other New Yorkers has been comforting, and at times overwhelming.

"When I'm walking down the street, and people ask me if I'm Japanese, and they ask me about my family. I almost cried the other day," said Furushiro, who lives in Queens.

Furushiro said his family lives in southern Japan, far from the devastation, and hasn't been hurt.

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