Aspen Middle School students have made more than 1,000 origami paper cranes to raise money for disaster relief efforts in Japan.
The paper cranes will be given to the nonprofit organization, Students Rebuild, which the Bezos Family Foundation has in turn committed $2 for each. The money will go toward reconstruction efforts in Japan. The nonprofit’s goal is 100,000 paper cranes from students around the country, with $200,000 raised.
Once the local project is complete, the thousands of paper birds will be packed up and shipped to the Seattle-based headquarters of Students Rebuild. They will eventually be used for an art installation.
The local effort began when Sierra Francen, an Aspen Middle School eighth-grader, was watching the Japanese tsunami coverage on the day of the disaster.
“I have friends in Japan and it made me want to help them because I was scared for them,” she said. “I felt so hopeless so I decided to try to do something.”
Francen was inspired to make origami cranes through the book “Sadako and the Thousand Paper Cranes” by Eleanor Coerr. The story describes the Japanese myth that a wish will come true for every 1,000 paper cranes made. After watching the news, Francen contacted her art teacher, Rae Lampe, and asked if the class could begin the project.
“At first we were just thinking of making 1,000 cranes and displaying them in a public place with a description of the myth and a donation box next to it,” said Francen.
Students were told about the project last week and have been encouraged to make the paper cranes in their free time — at the end of classes, after school and during lunch.
“It caught on,” said Francen. “Tons of people who weren’t even in art classes started doing it ... I mean, there’s origami paper everywhere.”
After word spread, Francen began researching a way to raise more money for the project. Last week she stumbled across the Students Rebuild web page. Francen shared the website with Lampe, and over the weekend Lampe contacted the nonprofit ensuring the school’s participation.
Since then, the students have made 1,200 paper cranes — raising $2,400 — and they will be on display at the middle school’s entrance until Friday when they will submit their cranes and donations to Students Rebuild.
Until then, Francen said she’s going to keep making as many cranes as she can. As for how many she’s made since the project started, she said she stopped counting.
“Probably around 300 or 400 though,” she said. “I’m not the only one who’s making a lot. I have friends who have gone home and made like 300 in a night. I’m like ‘How did you do that?”