RIVERSIDE (CBS) — A Riverside nonprofit agency is providing hundreds of earthquake victims in Japan with free heating oil in a city devastated by the quake and tsunami.
“The Fuel Relief Fund is giving away free heating oil to those who need fuel to heat their homes and shelters,” said Ted Honcharik, who has set up a temporary dispensary in the coastal city of Ishinomaki, north of Sendai, which was among the locations hardest-hit by the magnitude-9 quake two weeks ago.
“We are giving away 2.5 gallons per household,” he said. “Right now, the line for fuel stretches a few blocks. The people…are so polite and understanding, standing in this line that goes around the corner, waiting for only about 10 liters of home heating oil. Half a can only.”
The product is being dispensed from plastic containers in the back of a flatbed pickup truck rented by the Fuel Relief Fund.
Photographs snapped by Honcharik show people lined up on a street littered with overturned light poles, signs and other debris. There is a bent traffic signal hanging precariously over the pickup.
Donations to purchase additional home heating oil supplies can be made online at www.fuelrelieffund.org.
Meantime, the city of Riverside is seeking to raise $1 million for relief and recovery efforts in Sendai, which has been a “Sister City” to Riverside since 1957. Each has internship exchange programs and has sent official delegations for visits.
The Riverside City Council Tuesday approved a $100,000 donation in general fund revenue for the city’s Sendai Relief Fund. Also Tuesday, the Riverside County Board of Supervisors authorized up to $50,000 in donations from each board member’s community designation budget.
Riverside fire Chief Steve Earley said the department is planning a “fill the boot” fundraiser for Sendai relief on March 31, April 1 and April 3.
UC Riverside students raised more than $1,000 during a recent “Hugs for Japan” campaign on campus, during which fundraising participants gave a hug to each donor.
Students plan another fundraiser during an American Red Cross blood drive outside Olmstead Hall on Wednesday.
There are a dozen graduate students, 23 undergrads and 109 extension students from Japan enrolled at UCR.
Eleven American students from the university are studying this semester in Japan. They’re all fine, as are the immediate families of the Japanese students, campus officials said.
To show solidarity with Sendai, the city of Riverside is shining blue lights nightly from the City Hall roof, and the Mission Inn Hotel is shining blue lights from its Bell Tower.
Donations can be made online at www.riversideca.gov/sendairelief.
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