My friend Miko is running a great charity campaign to support families affected by the earthquakes and tsunami in Christchurch and Japan.  A few weeks ago I had a newspaper story published about the appeal, but for some very annoying reason I can’t link to it!  I don’t know what’s up with wordpress today.  Anyway, here’s the text:

Broken lives rebuilt one stitch at a time

We all love to receive homemade presents. We know that they have love stitched, knitted or baked into them – you can’t make something from scratch for a friend without thinking about that person during the process.

Yumiko Olliver-Gray, raised in Feilding and now living in Paraparaumu, is harnessing that spirit of aroha (love and support) by encouraging Kiwi crafters to make small gifts to be sent to beleaguered families in Christchurch and Japan.

After the earthquakes and tsunami Yumiko drew on her Japanese roots and organised the Kapiti International Women’s Group to make and sell washi eggs and origami, raising more than $700 for Oxfam Japan and Save the Children.

The focus on children continued with Yumiko’s next idea: the Fukudamachi Kindergarten Project in Sendai, home to Yumiko’s mother’s extended family. Yumiko explains, “My cousin works at the kindergarten and told me that many families had lost everything when their houses were destroyed, and the children were very traumatised from constant aftershocks.”

After a few weeks of encouraging her friends, family and blog readers to get involved, Yumiko sent two big boxes of handmade toys and handmade or New Zealand-made clothes to the children at the kindergarten. Online merchandisers CoochyCoo and Marselme provided free or heavily discounted clothes, and New Zealand Couriers International delivered the parcels free of charge.

“The children were delighted!” said Yumiko.

Yumiko’s two new initiatives, “From NZ with Love” and “Christmas for Christchurch”, continue her theme of “connecting heart, intent and creation for both giver and receiver”.

She is asking crafters to make toys, small gifts, household items and clothing to be sent to families in Christchurch and Sendai and, for the Christchurch appeal, baked Christmas goodies for festive food parcels.

There are many ways to get involved – by making items; donating raw materials (like wool and material) for crafters to use, helping with prizes for a fundraising online auction or simply by chipping in to help with postage costs. Anybody who would like to contribute can find more information on her blog at msmsbliss.blogspot.com, or at “100 in 100 Days Challenge” on Facebook.

It is challenging to juggle big charity projects with work and a busy home life, but Yumiko and her family have not let that stop them.

As she wrote recently, “I am swimming under unfolded laundry and crumby floors … but it’s worth it.

“My babies are learning about the wider world and caring for others. Despite the chaos we’re pretty happy!”

– Feilding Herald

If you want to help Miko out, head over to her blog (http://msmsblog.blogspot.com) or search for ‘100 in 100 Days Challenge’ on Facebook.  As part of last week’s knitting frenzy I’ve made four baby hats:

I’m sending them with a cute pair of pink booties that my mother knitted while visiting me in the UK a couple of years ago (I can’t actually remember which baby she knitted them for, but I’m sure that some Japanese or Canterbury baby will appreciate them).  Miko’s trying to get 100 donations in the first 100 days of her appeal, so I hope that this helps a bit.

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