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Snoqualmie Valley fundraisers, prayer gathering to help Japan relief effort

Local relief efforts for disaster-struck Japan are taking place on two levels, spiritual and physical.

As area schools and churches begin their fund-raising efforts, local residents are also invited to a World Prayers event Thursday, March 17 at the Fall City United Methodist Church.

"I expect a small, but significant event," said Pastor Lee Hartmann, who organized the event. She said she wanted to give people an opportunity to express their concerns for the people of Japan, "and also just a world in motion."

People of all faiths are welcome to join the prayer service, from 6:45 to 7:30 p.m. Thursday. The event is not a fund-raiser.

Pastor Phil Harrington of the Snoqualmie United Methodist Church has encouraged his congregation to take part in the Fall City event, as well. Both pastors point to the website of the United Methodist Committee on Relief http://new.gbgm-umc.org/umcor for anyone who wants to contribute in a more tangible way.

"For donating, the best way to do it is the Internet," Harrington said.

The Snoqualmie Valley Alliance Church is also encouraging people to donate via their website, www.svaonline.org. The donate link connects to the Christian and Missionary Alliance Services page, where people can donate. They can also write checks to CAMA, with "Japan Relief" in the memo area, for the church's offering box.

Fund raising efforts in the Snoqualmie Valley Schools are just getting started, and the students are leading the way.

Counselor Mike Cuddihy at Snoqualmie Elementary School said some of his students came to him earlier this week asking how they could help.

"We're not really prepared to start collecting blankets and shipping them," he said, so he started lunchtime conversations with the kids who wanted to help, and they are coming up with lots of ideas.

In the short term, Cuddihy said "We're trying to get the children to talk with their parents about other community resources." They are also accepting donations at the school office, which they will forward on to a reliable relief agency. Checks can be made out to SES Japan Relief Fund.

At Fall City Elementary School, Secretary Julie Blaskovich said "I had come kids come to me (Tuesday), and they wanted to get a bake sale going on," for Japan relief. She encouraged the student to talk with their teachers, and they are currently planning an event, but there are no details yet.

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