When an earthquake struck the island of Japan on March 3, 2011 the effects were devastating. The resulting tsunami caused widespread destruction and the loss of many lives. The Kihara family in Chappaqua immediately thought of their friends and family in Japan and quickly formulated a plan of action.
The Kiharas’s goal is to raise awareness of the effects of the natural disasters and contribute to the rebuilding through fund raising. The crux of their endeavor is based on the tradition of folding 1,000 origami cranes. Communities gather together to fold the cranes whenever one of their members is ailing or in need of assistance. Athena Kihara, a first year student at Wellesley College, explained this ancient Japanese custom: “It brings hope and makes wishes come true,” she related. Instead of presenting the traditional formation of 1,000 cranes, the Kihara family decided to sell 1,000 cranes and donate the proceeds to a library in Japan. The next step was to enlist volunteers to contribute to the growing number of cranes.
The idea was presented to Zahra Baird (the Chappaqua Library’s then teen librarian who is currently at the Yonkers Library). She recommended that Teen Alliance adopt the effort as one of their community service projects. Andrew Kihara, a Teen Alliance member and his mother Hitomi come to the library every other Wednesday to teach teens how to fold the cranes. “I have quite a lot of friends helping out,” Andrew said.
As the cranes multiplied, a location in which to sell them was sought. Baird spoke to Dawn Greenberg, owner of Aurora, Chappaqua’s fair trade store who was very receptive to the idea. In keeping with the global theme of her store she expressed her willingness to assist in the effort to “help people who are having trouble in other areas of the world.” A variety of cranes – some displayed on a Christmas tree, others adorning earrings and necklaces – are soaring in her shop.