Local Nonprofits Launch Japan Relief Efforts 3-14-2011 - WSMV Channel 4

Local Nonprofits Launch Japan Relief Efforts 3-14-2011

Reported by Josh DeVine
The images and video from Japan continue to stun many people. But in Middle Tennessee, they have also prompted a few people to action.

Special Section: Japan Earthquake | Video: Nashvillians Help Japan In Own Ways

"You couldn't imagine if it happened here," said Sam Davidson, the founder of the Nashville-based nonprofit Cool People Care.
In the aftermath of last year's flood, Davidson's group promoted the phrase "We are Nashville." Now, in the wake of last week's earthquake and tsunami, the group decided to donate proceeds from its "Love Your Neighbor" line of T-shirts, stickers and posters to relief in Japan.
"We learned a lot in terms of how a community can offer support," said Davidson. "And so we're looking to just leverage that same community to say, 'Something bad is happening somewhere else, and what can we do to help that.'"
At Soles 4 Souls, the tsunami is a return to the organization's roots. Founder Wayne Elsey launched the nonprofit in the wake of the 2004 Asian tsunami.
"I'm really hurting for these people," said Elsey. "We are just so honored to be in the position we are today to be able to respond, to be able to make a long-term, sustainable commitment like we've done."
That's why the nonprofit launched a large campaign, targeting donors and businesses, to provide shoes for survivors.
"It says, 'Look, there's a brighter day. There's a new future out there for you,'" said Elsey. "So if we can go and give them a new pair of shoes and the message of home, man, sign me up for that."
Last year, more than 27,000 people signed up for T-shirts designed by My Shirt Helps. That's why the group designed a new shirt, which will fund relief efforts in Japan.
"You just immediately identify with those people," said Bethany Newman, one of the group's leaders. "With a T-shirt, it's not just the money you're raising. It keeps it on people's minds when you wear it."
The American Red Cross and Salvation Army are both collecting donations to support the relief effort in Japan.

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