The West Penn Lions Club has joined the Lions of the world in providing support for the victims of the recent earthquake and tsunami and nuclear disaster in Japan by donating $2,000 to the Lions Clubs International Foundation designated fund for Japanese disaster relief.

"The devastation that has hit that country is unimaginable," commented Past International Director Robert W. Miller at a recent Lions meeting. "Our motto is We Serve and Japan and its people are definitely in need of service and support."

Any local residents who would like to join in the relief effort are invited to send donations in any amount to West Penn Lions Treasurer Ed Dudley (51 Red Oak Terrace, New Ringgold, PA 17960; 570-386-2917).

In the case of disasters, Lions volunteers are often the first to respond, and continue to help for as long as it takes until all work is done. As volunteers of the world's largest service club organization, Lions live in the affected communities, so they best know the needs of the community and are able to respond quickly and efficiently. They share a passion for rebuilding their communities.

With more 107,000 Lions in Japan, they are already mobilizing to provide immediate relief. Lions Clubs International Foundation is providing US$5 million to support Lions' relief efforts. This includes grants as well as donations from Lions around the world.

The Foundation has established a designated fund for donations for disaster. Donations can be made in confidence, for 100 percent of every donation will go directly toward disaster relief. The Foundation has more than 40 years of experience in disaster relief, and all funds are administered by local Lions in the area.

"On behalf of all Lions of Japan, we wish to thank all of you for your support," said Lions Clubs International Director Yasumasa Furo. Lions are appreciative of the immediate response of the Foundation and Lions' worldwide.

The Tohoku Region Pacific Ocean Coast Earthquake is the worst earthquake to hit Japan in over 100 years. Following the earthquake was a powerful tsunami and fires. The death toll continues to rise, and tens of thousands of people have been displaced, and many Lions have also been personally affected. March 14 members were finally able to make contact with some Lions in the hardest hit areas, but remain concerned for the health and safety of many.

Already, Lions have established two relief command centers in the affected areas, as well as one in Tokyo at the Lions Office. Lions have provided over 10,000 cases of water and thousands of emergency food supply kits to the hardest hit areas. In devastated Miyagi, Lions served homemade stew to 100 elderly.

These are just a few examples of the many stories of Lions' exemplary service. Lions in Kobe are helping lead these relief efforts, utilizing their expertise in earthquake relief and recovery from the 1994 disaster.

Staff spoke to Lions on March 15. "The damage differs from place to place. Lifelines are mostly restored, but there is a gas shortage. I can't travel far in my car to assess the needs and damage," said Lion Tsugumichi Hata, who lives in Sendai." During the middle of the call, a 6.0 earthquake struck in Tokyo and was felt in Sendai. "This disaster hasn't stopped; it's still ongoing," said Hata.

"I just returned from Christchurch, New Zealand, and I thought I had seen it all, but this is unbelievable. Looking to the extraordinary dimension of this earthquake and tsunami, Lions and our Foundation are committed to providing immediate and long-term relief. Lions of Japan are often the first to respond to other disasters, and I ask all Lions of the world to show their solidarity and help the Japanese Lions during their time of need," said Eberhard J. Wirfs, Chairperson of Lions Clubs International Foundation.

Lions Clubs International Foundation is the charitable arm of Lions Clubs International, the largest service club organization in the world with 1.35 million members in 206 geographic areas and countries. Annually, the Foundation awards millions in grant funding for natural disasters. LCIF has been named the #1 NGO according to a Financial Times study.