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A Simple Way to Assist

Toys for Displaced Children

We have found an opportunity to assist with the recovery efforts, and especially for displaced children, in a personal and culturally appropriate way by sending small toys to one adopted town.

As you may know, the coastal towns of Iwate Prefecture, in northern Honshu island in Japan, were very badly hit by the tsunami.  Evacuation relocation facilities are now being established in the inland city of Morioka.  Our old friend and city employee Sakurada-san, who assisted our tour groups in Morioka over the years arranging personal visits with local people, is now assigned to working in the refugee relocation program.   He is very excited about our desire to help displaced children.

Our plan is to provide small toys and gifts for the children upon their arrival at relocation facilities. The Japanese government and relief agencies on the ground are focused on providing for basic needs and will continue to do so in the coming months.   Schooling is handled.  However, for children whose homes and lives have been uprooted, toys and games may not be provided.   But we are all children at heart and remember how important toys were during stressful times in our lives. Additionally, gifts from caring people on the other side of the world are very meaningful.

Esprit Travel is taking on the project of collecting SMALL toys and sending them to Morioka for direct distribution to the children.   We encourage you to involve your children or grandchildren in the project, when applicable.

Guidelines for Sending Packages

We ask that your gifts fit into one of the following categories:

Toddler – Age 3 and under (gender neutral)
Girl – Age 2-6
Boy – Age 2-6
Girl – Age 7-11
Boy – Age 7-11
Girl – Age 12-15
Boy – Age 12-15
If you plan to give more than one package, please distribute them over several age/gender ranges.

* Please limit total cost of your package to between $10 and $15 USD, to insure consistency. Remember, children will be excited to receive a gift from abroad.
* Try to avoid Japanese-culture related items such as fans or ninja paraphernalia (so if feels more like a present from abroad.)
* Please place toys in a gift bag that is both cheerful and easily opened for airport customs inspection. Some bags are available with bows that tie, for instance. Please do not wrap with tape.
* Clearly label the bag with age and gender as outlined above.  We encourage including a personal note in simple English to the child.  If hand written, be sure to print in block letters (no cursive).
* Do NOT include cosmetics, food or candy or dangerous items such as pocket knives.
* Please send new items only, nothing used.
* Please do not include money in your gift bag.

Examples of appropriate items would be:  balls, small toys, small dolls, little girl purses, crayons, matchbox cars, picture books, fun stationary supplies, etc.

We ask that you send items directly to our Nevada office where we will combine them into boxes appropriate for shipping to the affected area:

Esprit Travel & Tours
9533 Rancho Palmas
Las Vegas NV 89117

We are hoping to have our first box of toys ready to ship by March 25th, and the next one shortly after.

Please remember your time in Japan as you think about what would be appropriate to send and the wrapping.

If you are inclined to contribute a small amount to help defray onward shipping costs and any “filler” gifts for missing ages that we may need to purchase, please send no more than $5 in cash. If you prefer to send a check in a larger amount for shipping please make it out to Esprit Travel and we will mark these funds for that intention. We will also be in touch with Sakurada-san as time passes to find out if there are other needs that we can help fill.

We hope that you will welcome this opportunity to make a small contribution to the recovery efforts of the people of Japan while making a big contribution to the life of one child.

Finally, I have received many requests for suggestions of places to make a more substantial donation to the greater relief effort. I now potentially have some new options which I will post here, within the next few days. Please stay tuned!

On behalf of my colleagues at Esprit, Elaine and Nancy, as well as our guides and staff:  Andy, Anne, Keiko, Chizuko, Kiyo, Masa, Takamatsu, John,
With warmest regards,

Steve