I am deeply humbled by the generous outpouring of support from Lions worldwide to my call last week to donate funds to the Foundation’s Japan Relief Fund. Already, LCIF has received donations or commitments exceeding US$6 million, including US$3 million that the Lions of Japan are working to raise themselves during their own crisis. Again, it’s so very humbling to see such compassion by the network of caring Lions and Leos worldwide. I thank all who have already donated from the bottom of my heart.
With the expected death toll now exceeding 18,000 and rising, the devastation is clearly greater than anyone could have imagined. And more than 400,000 people are still in shelters, in the cold, often going without a hot meal for days on end.
Now that the roads have re-opened, Lions from all over Japan are sending relief aid from every corner of the country – 30 tons of rice is being sent from Sapporo, US$50,000 worth of baby formula from Hokkaido and women’s health products from the southern area of Shikoku – all through the Lions network in Japan. Within a day of the disaster, many courageous clubs distributed 20 tons of food, water and emergency supplies, despite great risks and challenges to themselves. Even our blue-colored Lions relief tents are being delivered to give shelter for Lions volunteers and other relief workers in the hardest-hit areas.
To distribute the aid effectively, the Lions of Japan quickly set up four Lions relief aid warehouses in affected areas. Lions are coordinating relief aid distribution with local government officials and with the Japanese Red Cross. As a result, Lions are helping coordinate blood donation campaigns within Japan.
As you know, we have 31 Lions clubs in Sendai – the largest city affected by the quake – and nearly a club in every town up and down the coastline. Whether it’s clothes and food today, or shelter next week, or a wheel chair the week after, Lions will be there to give dignity to those who have suffered such unimaginable pain and suffering.
While many of you have already generously donated, for which I am very thankful, please encourage your fellow Lions, Leos and friends to also donate. Please know that every donation will be put to careful use, and 100 percent will go to the cause. Also, donations received between March 11 and June 30, 2011 will be eligible for Melvin Jones Fellowships.
I am again humbled by your generosity to date. The Lions of Japan have always been there for the rest of us in times of need. So I am proud of you, and never prouder to be a Lion, when we come to their aid in the wake of this historic, awful tragedy.