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Utahns not feeling 'donor fatigue'

By Jed Boal | Posted - Mar. 18, 2011 at 6:29 p.m.


19 photos

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CENTERVILLE -- The images of shattered communities in Japan are stunning. The stories of loss -- heartbreaking.

So, is there a point at which we tune out because it is too overwhelming?

"Donor fatigue" or "disaster fatigue" can affect us if we feel exhausted by the severity or the number of disasters.

"My heart is filled with gratitude for the people of Utah," said Etsuko Chidester. She is not seeing "donor fatigue" in Centerville.

Private fundraiser for Japan:
What: Yard sale
Where: Founders Park, 300 N. 100 East, Centerville
When: Saturday, March 19 -- 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.

**All proceeds will go to earthquake and tsunami victims in Japan

She helped organize a private fundraiser at Founders Park Thursday. Hundreds of people showed up with household items and baked goodies to donate. They also opened their wallets to help the people of Japan.

Chidester served a mission in the areas worst hit by the tsunami and put the event together with a friend.

"We both received so many phone calls from people we know, asking 'what can we do to help?'" she said.

Those at the fundraiser say they feel a connection to the Japanese people through Japanese friends in their own community.


Anytime anything happens, everybody needs help. I hope people will be there all the time.

–Kathy Wilkinson


"Anytime anything happens, everybody needs help. I hope people will be there all the time," said Kathy Wilkinson, a neighbor of Chidester and contributor to the fundraiser.

But the donations for relief in Japan are coming in slower than for other recent major disasters.

Americans have donated $87 million to Japanese relief efforts so far. That's less than half of the $210 million donated to Haiti in the same time period and less than a fifth of the $457 million raised for Katrina in the first six days.

Free calls to Japan
Qwest is offering free long-distance calling to Japan from landline phones from March 11 through April 10.

One week ago, the day the earthquake and the tsunami struck Japan, ksl.com had more than 1.5 million page views. Thursday, it was down to 328,000.

"I don't think there any way to guard against donor fatigue," said Teresa Zundel, communications director for the Utah Region of the American Red Cross. "We experience it with every disaster."

The American Red Cross has raised nearly three-quarters of the American total, and is pleased with the generosity of the people of Utah and throughout the country.

"There have been so many disasters this last year," Zundel noted. "We had Haiti, we had flooding throughout the United States, now we've got Japan and the Pacific. People get tired and they give what they can, and we really appreciate that."

The Japanese Red Cross expresses tremendous gratitude for all of the donations and compassion from the American people.

While ongoing financial contributions will be so important to help the Japanese people survive this disaster, Chidester says, what people give from their hearts is just as important.

"I really don't care how much money we can collect," she said. To see people's kindness is more important to us."

E-mail: jboal@ksl.com

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Jed Boal

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