Texans pitch in to provide Japan disaster relief




Posted on March 19, 2011 at 6:20 PM

Updated Sunday, Mar 20 at 9:12 AM

DALLAS — North Texans spent the weekend trying to find ways to help Japan rebuild from the dual disasters of earthquake and tsunami.

A group of children at Churchill Park in Dallas set up a lemonade stand during a Little League baseball game to raise money for the victims.

Five-year old Hudson Plaskoff and his eight-year-old buddy Miles Levy sold dozens of cups of lemonade, while other children quickly filled an empty plastic jar.

The kids are taking part in a nationwide donation effort through the organization Lemons to Aid.

Miles said their goal is simple: "To help people in Japan."

Customers are pitching in. More than $2,000 in donations have come in, and the funds will be handed over to the American Red Cross.

The desire to give during times of disaster is one Dick Talley has responded to since 1994. He's the state disaster relief director for the Texas Baptist Men.

"We are just trying to ease the burden on those that did survive and lost everything that they had, and we can help them get back on their feet," Talley said.

For every mission, Talley starts a journal. He keeps track of every donation and resource.

The group has already sent money to the devastated country. Working with pastors in Japan, those funds have now reached some of the victims.

"We are already supplying fuel to many of the victims to buy heating oil and cooking oil," Talley said. "We are trying to help them get water, help them get food."

The non-profit usually has its own teams on the ground days after a disaster, but in this case, they have yet to deploy.

"Because of all the debris in streets, because of all the power outages, because of many factors, we can't move around like we want to," Talley said. "We can't get the supplies where we need to."

TBM is waiting for the green light from Japanese officials to start delivering resources, including hundreds of water filters. They are cooperating with the country's organized plan to receive foreign aid.

"We are trying to learn to work within their system," Talley said. "Do it graciously, the way they would like us to work with them."

For now, the group is standing by. But the Texas Baptist Men organization is hoping more North Texans answer the call for relief.

"Right now is not the time to go," Talley said. "But we are getting the financial support, and we need more — this project is going to go for a long time."

E-mail mdiaz@wfaa.com