A plan to involve local school children in the effort to help victims of Japan’s deadly earthquake and tsunami is generating a rising tide of enthusiasm.
Not only will the children be able to raise money for the aid effort, but they also will learn more about local preparedness and get answers to questions that have bothered them since viewing last month’s devastation in the media, said Brenda Daley, organizer.
“It’s a way to bring the community together and feel better about the whole thing,” Daley said Thursday.
The venue for this catharsis will be a flea market in Langley next Saturday, April 30. The event will be from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. at the South Whidbey primary school campus gym.
Daley said the gym will be divided into spaces in which individuals, families, sport teams, churches, school classes and clubs — just about anyone interested — can set up booths.
“When the inside’s full, we’ll move outside, too,” Daley said.
All manner of food and merchandise will be bought and sold, she said, while at other booths there will be carnival games, preparedness information and counseling for students and families who have puzzled about what the disaster means and what they can do to help.
An impressive lineup of participants already is in place, Daley said.
• Island County Fire District 3 will have a fire engine onsite, along with accident-prevention and preparedness information.
• Island Transit will bring buses and its information trailer to demonstrate its role in emergency evacuations on the South End.
• The elementary school PTA has made its collection of carnival games available to groups that want to raise funds.
• Ivar’s Restaurant in Mukilteo will donate a huge tub of chowder to sell at the event. “I’m the chowder lady,” said Jamie Boyd, elementary school principal.
• A representative of Islands Chapter of the American Red Cross will be on hand to answer questions about natural disasters, and to accept donations for Japan relief.
• And school counselors will be available to help students and families deal with the uncomfortableness of watching a disaster unfold and feeling apprehensive and powerless.
“The kids need to know that there are things that happen that they can’t help, but they can still do something,” Daley said.
“Kids get numb about the things they see on TV,” she added. “We don’t want them to be numb. We want them to feel it’s their world, too.”
Daley, of Freeland, an estimator for a local flooring company, said she got the idea for the flea market after listening to children talk nervously on the school grounds about the Japan quake and tsunami.
Her 10-year-old son Seth is a fifth-grader at the elementary school, and she volunteers regularly as a Playground Pal.
Seth and his soccer team will operate a booth at the flea market, and while he himself isn’t worried about a tsunami hitting the South End, he knows other children who are. Information available at the fair should help, he said.
“It’s going to be cool,” he added.
Daley said she heard children mention seeing the tsunami-zone sign at Maxwelton Beach and worrying that what happened in Japan would happen here.
“We hope they can feel more prepared in their own homes, and that it’s OK to talk about it,” Daley said.
Boyd said the event will provide an opportunity for young students to learn about a major world development as it’s taking place, and how they can fit into the picture.
According to the latest estimates, the 9.0 earthquake and subsequent tsunami left a confirmed 13,000 dead and another 14,000 missing.
“It’s really hard on children to see this kind of thing on TV,” Boyd said. “I’m hoping we can relieve that in a small way.”
“This helps them see that natural disasters do happen, but they themselves don’t have to be helpless,” she added.
For information about the flea market, or to reserve a booth, call Daley at 360-507-9805 or e-mail email@example.com.