Airmen, Base Communities in Japan Raise $110,000 for Relief Efforts

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By Tech. Sgt. Matthew McGovern Pacific Air Forces Public Affairs

JOINT BASE PEARL HARBOR-HICKAM, Hawaii - To date, Airmen and community members from Kadena, Misawa and Yokota air bases in Japan have donated nearly $110,000 and volunteered more than 19,000 community-service hours to assist with relief efforts after the earthquake and tsunami that hit Japan March 11.

"The Airmen and base communities have opened their hearts and considered the plight of our Japanese neighbors as our own," said Master Sgt. Shanti Leiker, a drive organizer from Yokota AB. "They have focused their energy toward any effort to alleviate in some way the suffering of our neighbors."

Besides the monetary donation, Airmen and base residents have supplied and delivered items including clothing, food, blankets and toiletries. Volunteers also helped out where they could, especially at hardest-hit areas.

"I helped to remove plastic, dirt and other debris from a strawberry field at Hachinohe, Japan, near the ocean," said Capt. Kimberly Schaerdel, a volunteer deployed from Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam, Hawaii, to Misawa AB.

"It was an amazing experience to help out," Captain Schaerdel said. "It is one thing to assist with Operation Tomodachi on base, but it's another thing to step outside and see who you are helping out. I met the Japanese farmer at the strawberry field who would have had to do all this work by himself. I will never forget helping him."

To date, Pacific Air Forces Airmen have flown more than 440 missions and transported more than 7 million pounds of supplies and equipment in support of Operation Tomodachi.

This article was originally published at: http://www.af.mil/news/story.asp?id=1232510191