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Earthquake relief focus of festival - WCAX.COM Local Vermont News, Weather and Sports-

Earthquake relief focus of festival

Colchester, Vermont - March 27, 2011

Many Vermonters are doing their part to help earthquake relief efforts in Japan.

Sachie Kohlman was in Vermont when the catastrophic earthquake and tsunami hit Japan, but her family wasn't as lucky. The native of Japan came to Vermont for college and now works here. "For me being so far away I felt like I'm so helpless-- I can't do anything," she said.

But she did do something-- she designed stickers. And she was selling them at the Matsuri Japanese Festival Sunday at Saint Michaels College. At five dollars each, all of the money goes directly to the American Red Cross Japan disaster relief fund.

"It'll help the people in Japan to try and recover from what's going on there," said Haley Labonte with the American Red Cross.

"It's important to know people from other areas and to learn about their culture so you can grow more as a person," said Derek Lowe, who attended Sunday's festival.

With the sights and sounds of Japan all around them, many people had the victims of one of the world's largest earthquakes on their minds.

"We've been getting a great response today. We've got a bucket we've been collecting. We've been seeing 100 donations today already," Labonte said.

Many Japanese families from around the community donated items to sell at the event like dolls. The money raised will all benefit the Red Cross fund.

"I think a lot of people want to show a little support and feel like they're doing something," Kohlman said.

The money will provide things like food, medical attention and evacuation support for the people in Japan who are still in much need of help.

"I think people in Vermont like to help each other out. I was here during the Haiti relief and it was the same thing -- just an outpouring of support," Labonte said.

"I feel really good to be able to do something to help my country," Kohlman said.

Two countries coming together for one tremendous effort.

Gina Bullard - WCAX News

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