UP senior fundraises for Japan relief

By The Beacon | March 23, 2011 9:00pm

Danielle Castro is selling t-shirts, proceeds will go to the Red Cross

(Photo Courtesy of exclaimorange.com)

By Rosemary Peters, Editor-in-Chief -- peters12@up.edu

Senior Danielle Castro has strong ties to Japan, so when she heard about the 9.0 magnitude earthquake on March 11, she was concerned.

"I have family in Okinawa," Castro said. "Everybody on my mom's side is from Okinawa."

However, Castro's family is OK.

"They had enough time to evacuate," Castro said.

The epicenter of the earthquake was closer to the northeastern coast of Japan, and the tsunami didn't affect Okinawa as badly as places such as Sendai, more than 1,100 miles northeast of where Castro's family lives.

According to CNN, 9,487 people had been confirmed dead and 15,617 officially listed as missing – a total of 25,104 – as of 9 p.m. (AEDT) yesterday as a result of the quake and tsunami. About 387,000 evacuees – including those affected by the damaged nuclear plants – are staying in around 2,200 shelters with limited food, water and other supplies, according to the Kyodo News Agency.

Shortly after hearing about the crisis, Castro visited the website threadless.com where she entered a t-shirt design contest. For every t-shirt sold during the course of the contest, 25 percent of the proceeds went to the Red Cross to be donated to Japan.

After crunching the numbers, Castro realized if she took her shirt design and sold the shirts on her own, she could raise more money.

"I wanted to raise more money than what was going to be coming off of this competition," Castro said.

Castro approached UP's Marketing Department with her idea and Assistant Vice President of Marketing and Communication Laurie Kelley responded.

"Danielle came to the marketing office and talked with my colleague John Furey about this idea she had for the t-shirt competition with threadless," Kelley said in an email. "I loved her design and knew she would be successful in trying to sell them to raise money for the Red Cross."

In the end, Kelley connected Castro with UP alumnus Mike Thompson.

"UP alum Mike Thompson of Taylor Made T-Shirts printed the shirts at an extremely low cost so that more proceeds could go to the Red Cross," Castro said in an email.

When designing her shirt, Castro incorporated symbolism into every figure that appears on the white cotton tee.

"Rays of sunlight from a Japanese sunrise come over the father and his child, revealing shadows of a Samurai spirit," Castro wrote on her website. "This design acknowledges the history of Japan and what Samurai embody: honor, endurance, tradition, and hope. In the sun, you'll see the seismograph drawing of the 9.0 earthquake to acknowledge the tragedy, but the father and son walk on."

Castro said the money raised will go straight to Japan.

"Japan has been an ally," Castro said. "With Hurricane Katrina, they sent over about $13 million and the government also gave money to the Red Cross."

Castro sold over 100 shirts with the International Club at Espresso UP yesterday.

While selling shirts last night, Castro and the International Club set up a booth for students to fold purple origami paper cranes. Their goal is to fold 1,000 cranes because it is a sign of well wishes in Japanese culture. In order to reach 1,000 cranes, they will have students fold at other events.

"Just keep the people of Japan in your thoughts and prayers," she said.

Shirts can be purchased for $10. Castro is selling the shirts to people who contact her via email at castro11@up.edu. She is also selling them on her website.