Disaster Recovery Volunteer Project

by Hands On Tokyo
Disaster Recovery Volunteer Project
Disaster Recovery Volunteer Project
Disaster Recovery Volunteer Project
Disaster Recovery Volunteer Project
Disaster Recovery Volunteer Project
Disaster Recovery Volunteer Project
Disaster Recovery Volunteer Project
Disaster Recovery Volunteer Project
Disaster Recovery Volunteer Project
Disaster Recovery Volunteer Project
Disaster Recovery Volunteer Project
Disaster Recovery Volunteer Project
Disaster Recovery Volunteer Project
Disaster Recovery Volunteer Project
Disaster Recovery Volunteer Project
Disaster Recovery Volunteer Project
Disaster Recovery Volunteer Project
Disaster Recovery Volunteer Project
Disaster Recovery Volunteer Project
Disaster Recovery Volunteer Project
It is hard to believe that this month marks the Fifth Anniversary of the March 11th Triple Disaster in Tohoku. Please join us in taking a moment to think of all the people who tragically perished and all the people whose lives were forever changed that fateful afternoon. 
 
Agriculture was one of the key drivers of the Tohoku economy before the Triple Disaster. Labor shortages continue to make it very hard for local farmers in Tohoku to further rebuild their lives, run their farms and grow their businesses. Growing rice, vegetables and fruit is very labor intensive and the local farmers cannot do all the work just by themselves and, with the labor shortages, they need the continued support of volunteers. Recent news reports, however, indicate the number of people volunteering in Tohoku has dropped and the local farmers are feeling the impact. 
 
With your generous donations, Hands On Tokyo volunteers have been able to continue to support local farmers, Saito-san and his wife, and the New Rice Center (NRC) in Yamamoto-cho in Miyagi Prefecture. The NRC is an agricultural association of local farmers who produce and promote local rice, strawberries and apples.
 
In December, Hands On Tokyo volunteers and a group of  25 boy scouts and troop leaders from a Boy Scout Troop at The American School in Japan (ASIJ) helped Saito-san and his wife remove clips and stakes from an eggplant patch in preparation for this year's growing season. 
 
In February, 17 Hands On Tokyo volunteers helped Saito-san and his wife remove 1,000s of clips from five hothouses in which paprika plants are growing. What the volunteers were able to accomplish in a day would have taken Saito-san and his wife days to complete. After taking a short break while eating delicious grilled leeks grown by Saito-san, we also helped clear stones from land where Saito-san and his wife want to start growing vegetables this year. It was very moving to find fragments of everyday dinnerware from the houses washed away by the tsunami and to imagine how Saito-san and his wife will be able to clear the rest of the stones by themselves so that the land can be used to grow vegetables.  
 
We will continue to organize volunteer trips to further support Saito-san and his wife, the NRC and others in Tohoku as they continue to work very hard to further rebuild their lives and relaunch their businesses.
 
Five years later there are still people living in temporary housing. In December, Hands On Tokyo volunteers and the ASIJ Boy Scouts served rice pilaf, hot soup and hot dogs to temporary housing residents in Yamamoto-cho. We made holiday goody bags and presented them to the residents together with beautiful holiday wreaths made by employees of American Express Japan in Tokyo. We also decorated Christmas cookies with the residents. It was wonderful seeing so many generations enjoying this holiday activity together and seeing so many smiling faces. 
 

On Valentine's Day, 17 Hands On Tokyo volunteers served chicken wraps, rice pilaf and hot soup to temporary housing residents in Yamamoto-cho. We also made Valentine's goody bags for the residents and Valentine's chocolates, and decorated tissue boxes with lots of Valentine's hearts with the residents. There was much laughter and many smiles. The volunteers and residents could not think of a better way to spend Valentine's Day. When we prepared to return to Tokyo, the residents asked us to please come again soon. 

 
In December, nine Hands On Volunteers traveled to Joso City in Ibaraki Prefecture where, in September last year, there was unprecedented rainfall and tens of thousands of local residents were forced to abandon their homes as the Kinugawa Ruver burst its banks. The volunteers made lunch for 150 local residents whose houses were either swept away or made uninhabitable by the flooding and who are still living in temporary evacuation centers. We made chicken wraps and served them with hot soup and Christmas desserts. The local residents were very grateful to be treated to lunch, particularly now that the flooding is no longer in the news. 
 
Thank you for helping us bring smiles to the faces of so many temporary housing and evacuation center residents. We will continue to hold cafes and other events at temporary housing sites and evacuation centers in Tohoku and neighboring areas so long as people are still living in such places. 
 
There is still so much to be done and there are still so many people in need of support and encouragement. Thank you in advance for your continued support and for touching the hearts and souls of so many people in Tohoku. The local residents often say "wasurenai de ne" (which means "please don't forget"). With your generous support, Hands On Tokyo and its dedicated volunteers will never forget.
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Thank you very much for your heartfelt support and making it possible for us to continue bringing volunteers to Tohoku and to continue reassuring the local residents that they have not been forgotten as the rebuilding continues. None of this would be possible without your generous support. 

 

Labor shortages continue to make it very hard for local farmers in Tohoku to further rebuild their lives, run their farms and grow their businesses. They cannot do all the labor-intensive work by themselves and need the continued support of volunteers. With your generous donations, Hands On Tokyo volunteers have been able to continue to support local farmers, Saito-san and his wife, and the New Rice Center in Yamamoto-cho in Miyagi Prefecture -- which is an agricultural association of local farmers who produce and promote local rice, strawberries and apples. 

 

On September, 12 Hands On Tokyo volunteers helped Saito-san and his wife prepare for this year’s harvest. We will continue to organize volunteer trips to further support Saito-san and his wife, the New Rice Center and others in Tohoku as they continue to work hard to further rebuild their lives and relaunch the businesses that they enjoyed operating before the March 2011 earthquake and tsunami. 

 

In September, 12 Hands On Tokyo volunteers also held a café at a temporary housing site in Yamamoto-cho and made yakisoba (a popular nostalgic comfort food in Japan) and French toast, grilled hot dogs and served hot drinks and sweets. After lunch, the volunteers and the temporary housing residents decorated eco bags for use by the temporary residents to help minimize the number of plastic bags used for shopping. It was wonderful seeing multiple generations enjoying time together and creating new memories.

 

In November, seven Hands On Tokyo volunteers traveled to Joso City in Ibaraki Prefecture where, in September this year, there was unprecedented rainfall and tens of thousands of local residents were forced to abandon their homes as the Kinugawa River burst its banks. The volunteers made lunch for several hundred local residents whose houses were either swept away or made uninhabitable by the flooding and who are still living in temporary evacuation centers.  We grilled hot dogs and served 200 sets of hot dogs, cups of warm chili and blueberry, chocolate, banana and lemon poppy seed muffins to the local residents. They were quite surprised and very grateful to be offered lunch, particularly now that the flooding is no longer in the news. They receive food at the evacuation centers but there is not much variety and they do not get to eat meat that often so they very much enjoyed the hot dogs and chili.     

 

Thank you for helping us bring smiles to the faces of so many temporary housing and evacuation center residents. We will continue to hold cafes and other events at temporary housing sites and evacuation centers in Tohoku and neighboring areas so long as people are still living in such places. 

 

In October, Hands On Tokyo volunteers traveled to Minami Soma in Fukushima Prefecture on two separate weekends. Minami Soma was severely impacted by the March 2011 triple disaster. In addition to experiencing the earthquake and a 14 meter tsunami, Minami Soma is approximately 25 kilometers north of the Fukushima nuclear power plant and has experienced a significant reduction in its population.  

 

Local high school students have been looking for ways to bring people back to Minami Soma even if only for a day and decided to create a new tradition for the local area: a samurai matsuri (festival) with samurai battle re-enactments and opportunities to ride local “soma” horses that are descendants of the samurai era horses.  On the first weekend, five Hands on Tokyo volunteers helped make samurai costumes (armor). These costumes were used by the local high school students participating in this year’s inaugural samurai matsuri and can be used by local high school students participating in future samurai matsuri in the years to come.  The volunteers and others making the costumes learned the sewing techniques that have been used for centuries to make samurai costumes. The volunteers felt honored to participate in the continuation of this historic local craftsmanship. On the second weekend, 13 Hands On Tokyo volunteers helped set up the matsuri and, on the day of the matsuri, held a café serving yakisoba, grilled hot dogs, hot drinks and sweets. The volunteers were happy to be able to support the local high school students in creating this new tradition and new memories for Minami Soma and the high school students and other local residents appreciated all the support. It was wonderful seeing so many people smiling and enjoying a beautiful autumn day in an area that has experienced so much hardship in recent years.

 

We will continue to organize volunteer trips to communities devastated by the March 2011 earthquake and tsunami and other natural disasters.  There is still so much to be done and there are still so many people in need of support and encouragement. We are looking for more ways for those living in the Greater Tokyo Area to participate in our Tohoku projects and for new ways for Hands On Tokyo volunteers to provide support to local Tohoku families and businesses and those in neighboring areas impacted by natural disasters.

 

Thank you in advance for your continued support and for touching the hearts and souls of so many people in Tohoku.

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  Thank you very much for your continued generous support which makes it possible for us to continue bringing volunteers to Tohoku and, in doing so during the hot summer months, to continue reassuring the local residents who are still trying to rebuild their lives that they have not been forgotten.  None of this would be possible without your generous support.

  Labor shortages continue to make it very hard for local farmers in Tohoku to further rebuild their lives, run their farms and grow their businesses. They cannot do all the labor-intensive work by themselves. They need the continued support of volunteers. With your generous contributions, Hands On Tokyo volunteers have been able to continue to support local farmers, Saito-san and his wife, and the New Rice Center in Yamamoto-cho in Miyagi Prefecture -- which is an agricultural association of local farmers who produce and promote local rice, strawberries and apples.

  In June, 8 Hands On Tokyo volunteers, including teenagers who live in a children’s home in the Greater Tokyo Area, helped Saito-san and his wife by staking eggplant seedlings and by clearing potato and broccoli fields in further preparation for this year’s growing season.  In August, 23 Hands On Tokyo volunteers, including children who live in a children’s home in the Great Tokyo Area and their teachers, helped Saito-san and his wife by weeding a large negi field. Negi are a type of Japanese leek and are a very popular ingredient used in Japanese cooking.  Saito-san hopes to harvest these negi plants in December just in time for people to enjoy them in various hot pot dishes which are very popular during the winter months.  We hope Saito-san’s negi plants grow strong over the next few months so that he can have a good harvest in December.

  We will continue to organize volunteer trips to further support Saito-san and his wife, the New Rice Center and others in Tohoku. As they continue to work hard to further rebuild their lives and relaunch the businesses that they enjoyed operating before the March 2011 earthquake and tsunami.

  In June, Hands On Tokyo volunteers held a café at a temporary housing site in Yamamoto-cho and made yakisoba (a popular nostalgic comfort food in Japan) and French toast, grilled sausages and served hot drinks and sweets. The volunteers also set up a popular summer game for the young boys and girls who have lived all their lives so far in temporary housing with their families. The game involves scooping small bouncing balls out of a small pool of water using a plastic scoop with a very thin paper lining. It was wonderful hearing so much laughter and seeing the young at heart – a few of the older temporary housing residents – playing the game as well. Afterwards the children enjoyed the pool of water on a hot summer afternoon.

  After lunch, Hands On Tokyo volunteers and the temporary housing residents made tanabata matsuri/star crossing festival decorations. They wrote wishes on colorful sheets of paper, tied the decorations and wishes to bamboo branches. The tanabata matsuri celebrates the crossing of two stars (Vega and Altair) carrying separated lovers – making it possible for the two lovers to see each other once a year. It is considered to be a time of year when wishes can come true and many people write down their wishes and tie them to bamboo branches.  It was wonderful seeing multiple generations enjoying time together making decorations and creating new memories. Thank you for helping us bring smiles to the faces of so many temporary housing residents. Please join us in hoping that all the tanabata wishes of the temporary housing residents come true.

  We will continue to hold cafes and other events at temporary housing sites in Tohoku so long as people are still living in temporary housing.

  In August, Hands On Tokyo volunteers helped weed a special flower and herb garden located at the entrance to Ogatsu-cho. The garden was started by Tokumizu-san who grew up and lived in Ogatsu-cho until the March 2011 earthquake and tsunami. She wants to give hope to the former residents while they are still waiting to rebuild their homes in Ogatsu-cho. The garden is a symbol of regrowth and promise. Former residents living in temporary housing also use dried flowers and leaves from the garden to make floral postcards which are sold in a small information booth at the garden.  

  After gardening, the volunteers were led through a simulation of how the nursery and elementary school children in Ogatsu-cho barely escaped the rapidly rising water from the tsunami.  We hope this experience will help the volunteers react quickly when and if they experience a natural disaster in the future. The volunteers all said that this was a very powerful experience.

  We will continue to organize volunteer trips to Ogatsu-cho and other communities devastated by the March 2011 earthquake and tsunami.  There is still so much to be done and there are still so many people in need of support and encouragement.

  Thank you in advance for your continued support and for touching the hearts and souls of so many people in Tohoku. We are looking for more ways for those living in the Greater Tokyo Area to participate in our Tohoku projects and for new ways for Hands On Tokyo volunteers to provide support to local Tohoku families and businesses.

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Tohoku Project
Tohoku Project

Dear Supporters,

  Every time we bring volunteers to Tohoku, the local residents always say “please come back” and “please don’t forget”.  Thank you very much for your continued generous support which makes it possible for us to continue bringing volunteers to Tohoku and, in doing so, to continue reassuring the local residents who are still trying to rebuild their lives that they have not been forgotten.

 

  In March volunteers from BNP Paribas helped plant baby rose bushes at a children’s home in Tsukuba in Ibaraki Prefecture for children who are unable to live with their families. This project teaches the children the joy of gardening and encourages Okada-san who used to have a large rose garden in Fukushima before the nuclear accident forced him to evacuate four years ago. Okada-san relocated to Tsukuba after the Triple Disaster and greatly missed his hometown and beloved rose garden. After hearing his story, we suggested to Okada-san that he work with Hands On Tokyo volunteers and children living at this home to plant a new rose garden for future generations to enjoy. The volunteers, the children and Okada-san worked side-by-side to plant the baby rose bushes. It was very special seeing so many generations working together and inspiring one another. We hope that, by participating in this project, the children will want to participate in other volunteer activities throughout their lives.

 

   Labor shortages continue to make it very hard for local farmers in Tohoku to further rebuild their lives, run their farms and grow their businesses. They cannot do all the labor-intensive work by themselves. They need the continued support of volunteers. With your generous contributions, Hands On Tokyo volunteers have been able to continue to support local farmers, Saito-san and his wife, and the New Rice Center in Yamamoto-cho in Miyagi Prefecture -- which is an agricultural association of local farmers who produce and promote local rice, strawberries and apples. Prior to the 2011 earthquake and tsunami, the Yamamoto-cho area was famous for its delicious strawberries. During our recent volunteer trips to Yamamoto-cho, it has been very encouraging to see a large number of new hot houses where local farmers are once again growing strawberries. Hands On Tokyo volunteers were very lucky to taste some of these very sweet strawberries.  We encourage you to buy strawberries from this region when you see them at your local supermarket.

 

  On March 18th, Hands On Tokyo volunteers helped the New Rice Center by gathering and bagging dried rice plant stalks which were scattered across a large rice paddy when a typhoon passed over the area,  making it impossible for local farmers to use that rice paddy. The New Rice Center will now be able to use that rice paddy to grow rice this season. On  April 12th, Hands On Tokyo volunteers, including teenagers who live in a children’s home in the Great Tokyo Area, helped the New Rice Center by spreading the dried rice plant stalks over a large field to help fertilize the ground for this year’s vegetable crops. The volunteers also helped Saito-san and his wife by clearing other fields in preparation for this year’s growing season.  

 

  It is hard to imagine how long it would take local farmers to prepare for this year’s growing season without the support of volunteers. We will continue to organize volunteer trips to further support Saito-san and his wife, the New Rice Center and others in Tohoku as they work hard to further rebuild their lives.   

  In March, Hands On Tokyo volunteers also repainted the stairs and outside deck of the O-Link House in Ogatsu-cho (which is part of Ishinomaki City). The O-Link House is the community house which was built in Ogatsu-cho with the help of the Major League Baseball Players Association, the US-Japan Council and your generous donations. The O-Link House now plays an important role in keeping the local community connected while those from the Ogatsu area are still waiting to rebuild their homes in Ogatsu-cho. We will continue to organize volunteer trips to Ogatsu-cho to help further maintain this community house.

 

  In April volunteers from Moody’s Japan participated in a “Baking for Tohoku” Project that Hands on Tokyo organized and they baked lots of heart-shaped sugar cookies for Hands on Tokyo to bring to a temporary housing site in Yamamoto-cho so that Hands on Tokyo volunteers could decorate the cookies with the temporary housing residents. They also did a beautiful job decorating some of the cookies and making goodie bags for Hands on Tokyo volunteers to distribute to the temporary housing residents. Later in April, Hands on Tokyo volunteers held a café at a temporary housing site in Yamamoto-cho and made yakisoba (a popular nostalgic comfort food in Japan) and French toast, grilled sausages and served hot drinks and sweets. After lunch, Hands on Tokyo volunteers decorated the sugar cookies with colorful icing and sprinkles with the temporary housing residents. One of the residents impressed the volunteers by skillfully painting Mt. Fuji on one of his sugar cookies. It was wonderful seeing multiple generations enjoying time together decorating the cookies and creating new memories. Thank you for helping us bring smiles to the faces of so many temporary housing residents. So long as people are still living in temporary housing, we will continue to hold cafes and other events at temporary housing sites in Tohoku.  

 

None of this would be possible without your generous support. 

 

  In April, Hands on Tokyo also held a spring concert in Tokyo which raised JPY 600,000 for our Tohoku Projects. Over 200 people attended the concert and enjoyed dynamic performances by the Miyabi Arashi Taiko Group, Sawaka Katalyna and her piano accompanist, Maki Furugaki, and the award winning St. Mary’s International School Varsity Ensemble. The Master of Ceremonies was StuartO who regularly appears on a variety of Japanese TV programs and is a bilingual voice over artist. Members of the Hands on Tokyo Teen Advisory Board also held a bake sale at the concert, all of the proceeds of which were contributed to help fund future Tohoku Projects. It was wonderful seeing so many people from the local Tokyo community coming together in support of Tohoku and recognizing that there is still so much to be done in Tohoku.

 

  Thank you in advance for your continued support and for touching the hearts and souls of so many people in Tohoku. We are actively looking for more ways for those living in the Greater Tokyo Area to participate in our Tohoku projects and for new ways for Hands On Tokyo volunteers to provide support to local Tohoku families and businesses.

Tohoku Project 2
Tohoku Project 2
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  Please join us on March 11th as we pause to reflect on the fourth anniversary of the Tohoku Triple Disaster, to pay our respects to all those who sadly perished and to think of all those who are still living in temporary housing and trying with great resilience to further rebuild their lives.  So long as people are still living in temporary housing, we will continue to hold cafes and other events at temporary housing sites in Tohoku.  And we will travel to Ogatsu to help maintain the community house which was built with the help of the Major League Baseball Players Association, the US-Japan Council and your generous donations.  We also are looking for more ways for those living in the Greater Tokyo Area to participate in our Tohoku projects and for new ways for HOT volunteers to provide support to local Tohoku businesses and families during this continued post-disaster recovery period.

  Thank you very much for your continued generous support which enabled us to bring the spirit of Christmas and Valentine’s Day to temporary housing residents in the Yamamoto-cho area of Miyagi Prefecture. In December, HOT volunteers collaborated with a Tokyo-based boy scout troop from The American School in Japan in bringing Christmas presents to children living at a temporary housing site and holding a Christmas-themed café at another temporary housing site. 

  The presents were festively decorated by students from a Tokyo-based girls’ primary and secondary school, Seisen International School.  This is a great example of how students in the Tokyo area can participate in Tohoku projects when they are unable to travel to Tohoku. Primary and secondary school students from the boy scouts troop helped the children living at the temporary housing site select Christmas presents.  There was much laughter and many smiles while the presents were being opened and while the boy scouts, their scout leaders, the HOT volunteers, the children and their families enjoyed spending time together.  Many of the children living at the temporary housing site are under six years old and have spent much, if not all, of their lives living in temporary housing.      

   We then held a Christmas-themed café at another temporary housing site where the boy scouts and HOT volunteers, all wearing Santa’s helper and reindeer hats, made yakisoba and French toast, grilled sausages and prepared goody bags filled with holiday-themed cookies and sweets. 

   In February, 18 HOT volunteers, including teenagers who live in a children’s home in the Greater Tokyo Area, held a Valentine’s Day themed café at another temporary housing site in Yamamoto-cho for the first time.  We are looking to hold cafes and other events at temporary housing sites in Tohoku that we have not visited before.  HOT volunteers made yakisoba and French toast, grilled sausages (some cut into fun shapes such as like an octopus thanks to the special talents of our HOT volunteers) and served hot drinks and Valentine’s themed cakes and other sweets.  Yakisoba is a nostalgic comfort food in Japan.  One of the temporary housing residents said that the ingredients have gotten more expensive recently so she has not been able to prepare it for her family and she was very happy to have been able to enjoy a yakisoba lunch with her family at the café.

   HOT volunteers in Tokyo also made heart-shaped sugar cookies which we brought to the café and decorated with icing and heart-shaped sprinkles with the temporary housing residents.  It was wonderful seeing multiple generations enjoying time together decorating the Valentine’s cookies and creating new memories.  After lunch one of the HOT volunteers played beautiful songs on his keyboard and then another HOT volunteer demonstrated hula dancing and taught the residents and other HOT volunteers how to hula dance.  We did several hula dances together and learned the meaning of many of the hula dance moves.  Thank you for helping us bring smiles to the faces of so many temporary housing residents. 

   There are still labor shortages in certain parts of Tohoku which makes it very hard for local farmers to further rebuild their lives, run their farms and grow their businesses. They and their families cannot do all the labor-intensive work by themselves.  They need the continued support of volunteers.  With your generous contributions, HOT volunteers have been able to continue to support local farmers, Saito-san and his wife, and the New Rice Center in Yamamoto-cho.  The New Rice Center gives local rice farmers a place to store equipment and supplies and to work, get together and share information. It also contains new rice thrashing equipment that local farmers can use when harvesting rice and packaging the harvested rice for the market.

   In December, HOT volunteers and boy scouts helped the New Rice Center by attacking a mountain of rice chaff, the protective casings separated from rice grains during the thrashing process.  The rice chaff has to be manually bagged so that it can be taken away and used as fertilizer.  Then, in February, HOT volunteers, including teenagers who live in a children’s home in the Greater Tokyo Area, helped Saito-san and his wife by weeding the inside of several hot houses to help Saito-san and his wife prepare for the next growing season and by striping the bark from logs and then treating the wood so that the logs can be used to build wind barriers.   It is hard to imagine how long it would take local farmers to bag and remove all of the rice chaff and for Saito-san and his wife to prepare for the next growing season without the support of volunteers.   

  We will continue to organize more volunteer trips to further support Saito-san and his wife, the New Rice Center and others in Tohoku as they work hard to further rebuild their lives.  We also will continue the job shadowing program with Saito-san and other local Tohoku farmers for youths who must leave the children’s home when they turn 18.  This will connect local Tohoku farmers who are looking for young people to work with in rebuilding the local agricultural economy and youths who lack family and other support in finding jobs.

  In January, we commenced a new Tohoku volunteer project with BNP Paribas.  Volunteers are helping plant a rose garden at a home in Tsukuba in Ibaraki Prefecture for children who are unable to live with their families.  This project will teach the children the joy of gardening and will help Okada-san who used to have a large rose garden in Fukushima before the nuclear accident forced him to evacuate four years ago.  Okada-san relocated to Tsukuba and greatly missed his hometown and beloved rose garden.  After hearing his story, we suggested to Okada-san that he work with HOT volunteers and children living at this home to plant a new rose garden for future generations to enjoy.  

 None of this would be possible without your generous support. Thank you in advance for your continued support and for touching the hearts and souls of so many people in Tohoku, particularly at the time of the fourth anniversary.  

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Hands On Tokyo

Location: Tokyo - Japan
Website:
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Twitter: @Hands_On_Tokyo
Project Leader:
Naho Hozumi
Tokyo, Japan
$89,572 raised of $99,000 goal
 
479 donations
$9,428 to go
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