The devastation following the earthquakes and tsunami in Japan has spawned a relief effort by Alberni District Secondary School civic studies students.
The 30 Grade 11 students organized and are participating in two different fundraising initiatives.
The first project involves selling raffle tickets with a unique first prize: a $300 donation to be put towards the winner’s municipal property taxes.
“We asked to have $300 taken off a resident’s property taxes but the city can’t legally do that, so we went with the donation,” civic studies teacher Ann Ostwald said.
The provincial gaming branch just approved the initiative, and tickets for it are expected to arrive this week.
Sales are set to begin at city hall and Echo Centre on Wednesday, April 27.
The draw date is on May 12 and it coincides with the class’s second project – an art’s night to be held on the same date.
All proceeds will go towards the Canadian Red Cross.
Four students made a pitch for the project to city council at their April 11 meeting.
The city voted to support the initiative, but not the students’ request for a matching $300 towards residential taxes.
Watching the events unfold after Japan’s east coast was crushed by a tsunami and earthquake captivated the students.
“It really hit home with them in a way that the earthquake in Haiti didn’t,” Ostwald said.
The students didn’t see the Japanese as a foreign people, but as a fellow people who are in need.
“‘They’re like us’ the students said – they need help,” Ostwald said. “It really touched them.”
Aid is flowing to Japan with much of it on the ground already.
“But the students think it’s important to help in some way and keep the issue in the public eye,” Ostwald said.
“Disasters don’t go away overnight.”