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

8 thoughts on “A Simple Way to Assist

  1. ruth and bill goldman

    Dear Steve and Espirit staff,

    We’d love to help and will be sending toys of the type that you suggested. We also plan to pass the word on to others. Thank you for taking this initiative.

    Very fondly,

    Ruth and Bill

  2. Jane Cooper and Rollie Comstock

    Dear Steve — we have been thinking so much about you and our trip to Japan in 2004, and then the note came from Tom and Nancy. It’s no surprise to us that you are well connected to the needs of the people, and most especially the children. We will send the note all around to our friends and family, and hope that they will participate as well. God speed and bless you for all you do for the world. Jane

  3. Hayahiko & Sumiko Takase

    Dear Steve-san:

    We would love to contribute as much as possible. It is a wonderful way to comfort the children in the disaster strikken area Please let us know how?
    We are , in Los Angeles, now organizing a concert by Japanese musicians for fundraising.

    Please say “Hallo” to Ritsuko. Sumiko

  4. Monique Rea

    Hello Steve,

    I am a friend of Mozelles. She sent this information to me. I have authored and illustrated a children’s book that if you think would be appropiate to send to the relocated children in Japan, I would love to donate 100 copies of my storybook. If you would like to view it, you may visit my website, http://www.toulousethemoose.com or see a page or two on Amazon.com listed with the title, “The Original Story of Toulouse the Moose and His Friends”. I have read it to 1st, 2nd & 3rd grade students. It is all in English. It is a story about a special moose, Toulouse the Moose and his cat, Menou who travel to the French countryside to visit a castle. Do let me know, if you would like to me to send 100 copies. Thank you kindly, Monique

  5. Jan McFarland

    Steve,
    I am so happy that you sent this message. Several of my friends here know that Mike and I have traveled to Japan and they have asked me how they could help. This is a wonderful way for them to help make a difference in a small way. I will be sending a package with some gifts for the children as soon as I can collect them. I believe that knowing others in the world care about them, can make a difference to these children. Bless you, and keep safe!
    Jan McFarland

  6. Barbara

    Thanks Steve. This is a wonderful idea. I will be sending a package and am forwarding your message to my daughter and granddaughter in Atlanta and I am sure they will want to participate also. Barbara