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Operation Tomodachi
YOKOTA AIR BASE, Japan -- Cailee Dziamski, a Red Cross volunteer, plays with a baby before leaving the Enlisted Club for a voluntary assisted departure, March 22 2011. The Department of State approved the voluntary authorized departure for eligible family members until the situation in Japan has resolved. (U.S. Air Force photo/Master Sgt. Jeromy K. Cross)
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American Red Cross plays a key role in Yokota's disaster relief assistance

Posted 3/31/2011   Updated 3/31/2011 Email story   Print story


by Staff Sgt. Robin Stanchak
374th Airlift Wing Public Affairs

3/31/2011 - YOKOTA AIR BASE, Japan -- Twenty days may not seem like a long period of time for some people, but just imagine how long that would seem for someone who is helping to support 24-hour emergency relief operations.

For members of the Yokota community who teamed up with American Red Cross staff to support disaster relief operations following the earthquake and tsunami March 11, that is exactly what they have experienced.

"We were there to support and help wherever there was a need," said Mary Basiliere, Yokota's senior station manager for the American Red Cross. "We had more than 330 people who volunteered more than 6,500 hours throughout this crisis.

Volunteers and staff members worked at a variety of places around the base during this time period. From helping with the bed down of nearly 600 commercial airline passengers at the Taiyo Community Center to manning their canteen with free beverages and snacks at Yokota's reception processing center, volunteers were there to assist wherever needed.

"The teamwork of volunteers has been amazing, and what was even more incredible in their ability to come together was that most of them didn't even know one another. This is just a testimony of the teamwork everyone at Yokota has to come together in a time of need," said Ms. Basiliere.

In addition to donating their time, people also contributed monetary donations to the organization for relief efforts.

"Here at Yokota alone, the money that was dropped off at our office and we were able to forward on to support the humanitarian aid, was nearly $16,500," said Ms. Basiliere.

According to their official website, the American Red Cross announced March 29, the public has donated more than $120 million to help the people of Japan. The money will go to the Japanese Red Cross, which is providing direct emergency relief, medical services and emotional counseling to affected communities.

Additionally, the American Red Cross committed $10 million in relief funding in the early days after the disaster and will provide the Japanese Red Cross with another $50 million.

"The outpouring of compassion from Yokota has been overwhelming. People see where there is a need for help and they just jump in where ever needed. We couldn't have done it alone, it really takes a community coming together during a crisis to get the job done and that is what we've all done here," said Ms. Basiliere.

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