Charitable groups reaching out to help Japan

About 200 small green boxes are on their way to Japan to provide shelter and aid to those in need fo

About 200 small green boxes are on their way to Japan to provide shelter and aid to those in need following the earthquake and tsunami.

Another 5,000 are on standby.

They are called ShelterBoxes, and they have only been around for about 10 years.

“They fill a certain niche that wasn’t being met by other organizations,” said local representative Nancy Faddegon.

Each box contains a 10-person insulated tent, thermal blankets, a wood-burning stove with cooking utensils, a water purification system and a tool kit, among other things.

The supplies are made to last a minimum of six months, but they do last longer. Faddegon said a large amount of Haitian citizens are still living in their ShelterBox tents after the earthquake last spring.

Each box costs $1,000. Eighty-five to 90 percent of donated funds go toward buying supplies for the box, and the rest pays for its shipping and the cost to train the volunteers who deliver the boxes by any means available. The ShelterBox organization relies heavily on volunteers. Its international headquarters is in the United Kingdom.

Faddegon works with her husband, Jack, as ShelterBox representatives for the Capital Region. They live in Latham and operate Faddegon’s Nursery in Niskayuna.

“In addition to providing aid, the boxes provide dignity and a feeling of normalcy,” she said.

Shelter is needed desperately right now for those displaced in Japan. At night, temperatures are dropping below freezing, Faddegon said. People can go a few days without food or water, but without shelter, they may not survive.

Officials estimate that 370,000 Japanese have been displaced. Others are stranded in their homes with no running water, heat or electricity.

Donations of any amount are accepted if $1,000 can’t be raised to pay for a box. The money received is pooled to create as many boxes as possible.

Those who donate will also be sent a number so their box can be tracked online.

For those who may have time but may not have the extra cash, the organization is looking for volunteers to hold fundraisers with the benefits going to ShelterBox.

The American Red Cross of the Northeastern New York Region is also seeking monetary donations.

Spokeswoman Kimberly Tavarez said that at this time, sending donated items to Japan wouldn’t be cost-effective.

The Red Cross deployed 95 teams to Japan made up of 700 people, including doctors and nurses. It is currently providing food, medical supplies and blankets through the Japanese Red Cross.

Tavarez said the local chapter is always looking for volunteers to help in Albany as well.

“You may not be helping with the Japan disaster specifically, but you would be helping our general purpose,” she said.

Attorney General Eric Schneiderman has encouraged New Yorkers to donate but reminds charitable persons to give to established charities. Do not give to unfamiliar organizations, and ask how the donation will be used. Also ask if the organization has previously done relief work in Japan.

For those who text a contribution, make sure the organization has authorized donations via text message. The attorney general advises that it may be faster to contribute directly to the organization because funds donated by text message may not reach the charity until your next phone bill is paid.

For more information on how to hold a local fundraiser, contact Nancy Faddegon at 785-4618 or [email protected]

To contact the Northeastern New York Red Cross Chapter in Albany, call 458-8111, and to reach the Adirondack-Saratoga Chapter of the Red Cross, call 792-6545.

Categories: Schenectady County

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