SASEBO NAVAL BASE, Japan — The base command, through the Religious Ministries Department, has announced it’s collecting donations of dollars and yen for the American Red Cross’s tsunami relief efforts.

Base commands and organizations are being asked to sponsor special projects and events designed to raise money for the Tsunami Disaster Relief Project, said a department spokesman. The deadline is Jan. 21 at noon.

“We’ve participated in several efforts recently at the base to assist victims of various disasters but we realized the magnitude of this disaster is just beyond what anyone could have anticipated,” said Cmdr. Harvey Ranard, command chaplain.

“People here have asked about giving donations, so I approached the CO [base commander] and it was decided to steer the effort through the Religious Ministries Department and then give the donations to the American Red Cross,” Ranard said.

“The Red Cross and the military have a history of cooperation and it’s rated four stars,” he added, “meaning the vast majority of donated money actually goes for assistance.”

Donations should be delivered in a sealed envelope to the Religious Ministries Department on the Community and Education Center’s second floor. On the envelope should be the name of the command making the donation, the amount, name of a point of contact and a phone number.

“One man just walked in here the other day and handed over a check for $1,000,” the chaplain said.

Ranard wrote military commanders and tenant commands that “In case you are not aware, a shipment of clothing and food has already been dispatched to the area via one of our home-ported ships participating in the relief effort. It is unclear at this time if there will be any additional opportunities to provide relief of this nature.

“Donating funds is, however, one of the best ways to support relief efforts such as this,” the chaplain wrote, “because it gives relief agencies the flexibility to purchase needed items at reduced costs and get them on site in a timely manner.”

The student council at the Jack N. Darby Elementary School, Hario Housing Village, is making fund-raising plans for the Tsunami Disaster Relief Project. Later this month, at a school assembly, officials will announce how much money the school raised.

“On behalf of Capt. Michael James [base commander] and the Religious Ministries Department,” Ranard said, “I want to thank everyone in advance for their thoughtfulness and support in this effort to help our neighbors in a time of need.”

Call DSN 252-3380 for more information about the Tsunami Disaster Relief Project.

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