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Harvard Square Businesses Help Japan

By Kerry M. Flynn, Crimson Staff Writer

Three weeks after the March 11 earthquake that devastated Japan, Harvard Square businesses will be teaming up for a bake sale to benefit relief efforts this Saturday at Upstairs on the Square.

The fundraiser is part of a nationwide effort to organize simultaneous bake sales on Saturday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Over 40 businesses from across the nation are participating in the hopes of raising $100,000 for Peace Winds Japan, an NGO doing relief work in Japan.

“We’re really happy to be a part of a much larger effort,” said Denise A. Jillson, executive director of the Harvard Square Business Association.

According to Dina Sonenshein, finance manager at Upstairs in the Square, the restaurant’s owners learned about the effort after an employee read about it on organizer Samin Nosrat’s blog. Nosrat previously organized a similar bake sale event for relief in Haiti, raising $23,000.

Mary C. Deibel, co-owner of Upstairs on the Square, contacted Nosrat and began organizing the event.

“It was such a quick decision, but it has been marvelous. My email has been inundated with people who want to help,” Sonenshein said.

Members of Harvard for Japan—a  group organized to help coordinate the University’s response to the disaster—will be volunteering at the event and handing out bracelets. The organization is also contributing origami paper, funded by the Reischauer Institute of Japanese Studies.

“We’ve been doing events on campus, but we haven’t outside of campus,” said Hiroko Kumaki ’11, a leader of the organization. “This is more of a national movement, and it’s really good that they started that and Harvard Square is a part of it.”

Asami Tsuda, a Japanese language instructor at Harvard, said she will be teaching origami and its importance to Japanese culture to attendees.

“In Japan, [a] chain of cranes is a good luck charm, and if you make 1,000, your wish will come true,” Tsuda said.

Once completed, the cranes will be given to Nosrat, who will then send them to Japan.

According to employees at several businesses, Harvard Square shops have been in contact to coordinate fundraising efforts for Japan.

“Our office manager was dining with the pastry chef from Upstairs on the Square, and she was the first one to bring [the bake sale] to our attention. When it came up again, we decided to help,” said Peter F. Baker, general manager of Harvest. Baker said his bakery will donate mini loaves of soda bread and triple chocolate chip cookies.

Other contributions to the bake sale will include cupcakes with red sprinkles from Sweet and mudslide cookies from Henrietta’s Table.

Local business Black Ink has created 100 limited edition Japan Relief posters, which will be sold at the bake sale. Black Ink also organized a “Shop for Japan Relief Day” at both its locations and online. Twenty percent of all sales on March 25 were sent to the Japanese Cultural and Community Center of Northern California.

“We sell a lot of Japanese products from Japanese distributors, so we felt like we had to make some sort of gesture,” said owner Susan L. Corcoran, who said the event raised $1,060.

Tsuda and Kumaki said they believe that relief efforts such as these are important in order to remind people about the victims who are still suffering.

“It’s been a while after the earthquake, and the news has been covering the nuclear issues instead of the actual victims,” Kumaki said. “It will help raise awareness.”

—Staff writer Kerry M. Flynn can be reached at

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FundraisingHarvard SquareJapan