Knox Students Contribute to Disaster-Relief Efforts in Japan

By making origami cranes and collecting cash, they donated about $3,000

April 14, 2011

by Paige Anderson '14

Anyone looking around the gallery in Seymour Union recently might have wondered why Knox College students were so interested in origami cranes. It was for a good cause.

Japanese Club and Rotaract teamed up to aid Japanese disaster-relief efforts by collecting origami cranes. The Knox student clubs joined with two national organizations, Students Rebuild and, in the "Paper Cranes for Japan" project.

For every folded paper crane submitted, the Bezos Family Foundation is donating $2 to aid Japanese reconstruction efforts. According to Japanese tradition, a crane will grant a wish to anyone who folds 1,000 paper cranes.

Japanese Club President Melissa Sher, a junior from Vernon Hills, Illinois, was pleased with how the campus community responded to the project. Within a week, the clubs collected 1,350 folded cranes -- or about one crane for every Knox student.

"I don't think any other fundraiser would have raised $2,700 for rebuilding," said Sher, a biology major with a double minor in neuroscience and psychology. "I'm really excited about it because we exceeded our goal, which originally was 1,000 paper cranes to get a wish."Making origami cranes

After a major earthquake and tsunami struck Japan in March, Knox students quickly decided they wanted to lend a hand.

"We were trying to figure out a way to help Japan without collecting money directly from students because we know it's difficult for a lot of people to just give money," said Ellen Ramsey, co-president of Rotaract. "This activity was perfect."

"We're not just walking around with a lot of cash," Sher added. "But most people would stop and fold a paper crane, especially for a good cause."

The groups provided origami paper and taught Knox students how to make the cranes.

"We were really surprised how interested students were in helping out," said Ramsey, a junior from Overland Park, Kansas, with a major in psychology and a minor in anthropology and sociology. "If you've ever folded a paper crane, (you know) it's very frustrating. But a lot of students patiently waited to finish their cranes, and that was awesome."

Adding another paper craneThe funds that Knox students have raised by folding cranes will go toward rebuilding schools and other learning facilities in Japan.

Japanese Club and Rotaract also accepted $75 in cash donations. That money was added to the $775 that the Knox College Asian Student Association recently collected. The funds are being donated to the American Red Cross for relief work in Japan.

Founded in 1837, Knox is a national liberal arts college in Galesburg, Illinois, with students from 48 states and 51 countries. Knox's "Old Main" is a National Historic Landmark and the only building remaining from the 1858 Lincoln-Douglas debates.