Event aids tsunami survivors

More than 125 folks attend Kura Blessing at SakéOne
by: Chase Allgood Reverend Koichi Barrish throws salt during Saturday’s Kura Blessing at SakéOne.

Donations raised during a Kura Blessing ceremony at SakéOne in Forest Grove Saturday will directly aid survivors of the March 11 earthquake and tsunami in Japan.

About $820 in cash came in during the event, and some attendees wrote checks directly to MercyCorps for relief efforts in Japan, said vice-president of marketing Dewey Weddington.

'The Kura Blessing is typically a little more of a celebration than the tone at this year's event, but all in all it really was a positive event,' Weddington said.

Funds raised at SakéOne - as well as more than $6,000 from a SakéOne-sponsored Facebook page - will be used to purchase everything from temporary shelters to medical facemasks, according to Minda Siebert, a senior community fundraising officer with MercyCorps and daughter-in-law of Myrna Siebert, a volunteer fundraiser who spoke to the assembly at SakéOne.

'Our people on the ground in four major cities in northeast Japan are supplying tents, blankets, tarps, clothing, water and food to the Japanese survivors,' Minda Siebert noted.

Donations also will help to get 'Comfort for Kids,' a pilot program to provide sports, music and art activities to 700 children and their caregivers, off the ground in the critical weeks following the tsunami. 'We consider this a trauma assistance effort for kids in post-disaster situations,' Minda Siebert said.

SakéOne's 2011 Kura Blessing turned out to be an opportunity for giving as well as receiving. 'People stayed around for quite a while and reached deep to help out,' Weddington said.