West Tisbury students donate money and cranes to Japan relief

Last week, Susan Larsen, a Chilmark School teacher, who spearheaded a unique Martha’s Vineyard campaign to help the victims of Japan’s devastating earthquake and tsunami, received a letter and two checks totaling $800 made out to the Japanese Disaster Relief Fund.

In an email to The Times, Ms. Larsen said, “The magic of ‘Senbazuru’ continues, and it’s so important to keep the people of Japan in our minds and hearts.”

The West Tisbury School letter is dated June 17 and signed by Marsha Curtis and Suzanne Hammond. “On behalf of the student council and leadership team of the West Tisbury School, we would like to donate the proceeds from our Spring Bash to the Japanese Relief Fund. In addition, over 100 paper cranes were made with love by all the students of our school. We thank you for bringing this to our awareness, and we were so happy to have been part of this wonderful cause.”

Ms. Larsen said she sent the letter to Peter Grilli, a seasonal Island resident and president of the Japan Society of Boston. “The students of the West Tisbury School need to be publicly recognized for their wonderful efforts and compassion,” she said.

On May 9, Ms. Larsen presented Japanese Consul General Takeshi Hikihara of Boston with 1,000 paper cranes “lovingly folded” by students and other members of the Martha’s Vineyard community, and a check for $500.

The presentation was due to an effort called “Martha’s Vineyard Senbazuru.” An ancient Japanese legend promises that anyone who folds 1,000 origami cranes (Senbazuru) will be granted a wish, such as long life or recovery from illness or injury. On May 9 the cranes were handed to the Consul General as symbolic of Islanders’ and students’ wishes and prayers.