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April 13, 2011 - Lake Orion is doing its part to aid the victims of the March 11 disaster in Japan.

The Lake Orion Police Department and Blanche Sims Elementary collected over 450 blankets sent to the people of Japan. A major problem for the newly homeless Japanese following the tsunami, has been keeping warm.

Orion Township resident Sherri Evans, mother Christian Evans Lake Orion High graduate, a sailor on the U.S.S. George Washington, said the drive to collect blankets began on the ship which is now stationed outside of the Miyagi Prefecture in northern Japan. Word that tsunami victims needed aid soon spread to crew member families stateside, and after discovering she could help by simply collecting blankets, Sherri began searching for ways to spread the word even further.

"After getting the suggestion from my son, I went around and talked to organizations in the community, and talked to (Lake Orion Police Chief) Jerry Narsh about collecting blankets," she said. Christian was shipped to Japan in March of 2010. "I also sent out emails to several churches and schools, and the community came together more than I could have imagined.

"I feel helpless on this situation because we have everything and they have nothing right now, and they just had another earthquake on Friday but no one hears about it anymore."

Sherri said a large number of the blankets were homemade, sleeping bags, or comforters. She added that Blanche Sims Elementary contributed in their own way, sending nearly enough handmade cards to account for every blanket, each with a supportive message the the blanket's recipient. In addition to sending card with the blankets, the kids also made cards for the sailors of the U.S.S. George Washington.

Yet Orion residents were not the only people donating to the drive based out of the LOPD.

Lucy Norman, of West Bloomfield, said when she read about the drive, she felt she had to contribute.

"After I read about what they were doing, I was amazed that this young man thought so much for the people over there, and when I got into bed that night, and I was nice and cozy, I thought 'I have to do something,'" Norman said. "I started trying to get support with my neighbors, then my relatives, followed that with people at church, and everyone I talked to just thought it was a great idea.

"We're just so blessed in this country, and what's a blanket? It covers someone, keeps them warm, and someone, somewhere will receive this gift and enjoy it."

Together with other contributors from West Bloomfield and surrounding areas, Norman donated around 45 blankets to the blanket drive. After gathering funds from donations, some retailers even offered her a discount on the blankets.

According to Narsh, the ship U.S.S. George Washington was the only one near the coast of the affected area, and that almost immediately after the initial shockwave, the crew was called in to provide humanitarian aid. The ship currently is at sea after being ordered to retreat from dry land after the nuclear power plant problems in Fukishawa.

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