Japan: How You Can Help

Before and after shots of Sendai, Japan. Source: NYT

I’m sure I don’t have to tell you about the utter devastation that’s been unleashed upon the island nation of Japan last Friday.  Hell, even if you’ve been living under a rock, you know about it because you probably felt the damn thing shake.

The 8.9-magnitude earthquake and the following upending tsunami wreaked incalculable damage to people and property alike.  Thousands are dead, even more are missing.  If you wanted to help in person, I applaud you, but you’re probably out of luck – statuses of flights are still tenuous at best for both arrivals and departures.  There’s always something for you to do, though (and you should), even if you’re a jaded gamer like, well, most of us here.

First and foremost:  The Red Cross.  This is most helpful and direct route to aid the relief effort.  To make it even easier for you, text REDCROSS to 90999, and a $10 donation will be added to next month’s cell phone bill.  If it helps, any donation to the Red Cross is tax-deductible.

Other worthy charities:  Doctors Without Borders, AmeriCares, Direct Relief International, and Save the Children.  While this list is by no means exhastive, be wary about to what charity you choose to donate — the scum of the earth use crises like this to prey on the goodwill of others.  The charities above have been vetted by the Better Business Bureau to meet their 20 standards of donation accountability (with the sole exception of DWB, which only meets 18, but is notable charity in its own right.)

If even $10 is too much for you (and it very well could be — Americans aren’t exactly flush with cash these days), then how about $1?  For the next week, Capcom has dropped the price of its iOS port of Street Fighter IV to $0.99 and is donating 100% of the sales to the relief efforts.  (I would hope Apple is willing to cough up their 30% of that sale…)  Go download your copy now.  I was just discussing with a friend a few days ago how much I don’t like the virtual analog stick in iOS games, but I think I can deal with it for this one purchase.

Lastly, Verizon, Sprint, T-Mobile, AT&T, and MetroPCS are all waiving the charges to call or text your loved ones in Japan, retroactive to March 11.  While it may not be the best thing to bombard the phone lines right now, making a call or sending a message to make sure your friends and family are okay is covered.  Luckily, my friend in Japan right now updated his Facebook status to let us know he’s okay — unfortunately, others aren’t so lucky.

Photo credit: New York Times. (Hit the NYT link for interactive photos showing before-and-after images of the devastation in Sendai, Onagawa, and other northern Japan locales from 2010 and March 12, 2011.)

Written by: Dwight Tejano

Dwight is the founder of Open the Fridge, which he started in 2008 and rebooted in 2010. Due to the nature of early adopting, his bank account is normally empty. He likes to sing in world-renown choruses to forget such things.

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