In Japanese culture, if a person folds 1,000 origami cranes, his or her wishes come true. And so, as they wish for relief for victims of the recent disasters in Japan, members of the Japan Student Association on campus have begun creating the small paper birds.

The “1,000 cranes” project is just one of several relief efforts by the University community to help Japan after the country’s recent string of natural and man-made disasters. Other student groups as well as the University of Michigan Health System have been bolstering support for the victims of the 9.0-magnitude earthquake on March 11 and a subsequent tsunami with 10-meter waves. The country is now facing a combined toll of more than 25,000 dead or missing people.

Engineering junior Yoshiki Masada, president of the Japan Student Association, said the organization is engaged in a variety of fundraising efforts to help victims of the disaster in Japan. It is also working with several other campus organizations, including the Tzu Chi Collegiate Foundation and the Malaysian Student Association, to make the endeavors even more successful.

“We don’t see the point if everyone’s just doing their own thing,” Masada said.

Representatives from several of the organizations have been collecting donations on the Diag and in front of the restaurant to help victims of the earthquake and tsunami in Japan, Masada said. The groups’ fundraising efforts have raised more than $5,000, he said. The organizations will also be selling bracelets and T-shirts that say “Pray for Japan” next week in Angell Hall.

UMHS spokeswoman Kara Gavin said members of the health system are collecting medical supplies and bottled water to donate to relief efforts in Japan. She added that UMHS is asking all its departments to collect reusable equipment such as crutches or spare supplies like injury dressings to send to Japan.

UMHS has already seen an outpouring of support for victims of Japan — not just at the main campus hospital but also at medical offices throughout the area, Gavin said.

“The health system community has really rallied around this cry,” she said. “They’re coming together.”

Supplies will be transported to Japan by the Detroit-based aid organization World Medical Relief, Inc., which also distributed UMHS donations to victims of the earthquake in Haiti last year. UMHS already has enough bottled water and medical supplies to fill two shipping pallets, according to Gavin. She added that donations are still being collected and that UMHS will also accept contributions from the non-medical community.

“It’s amazing to see what everyone’s doing,” Gavin said. “Everyone wants to help.”

Reflecting personally on the disaster, Masada said though his relatives live in Tokyo and were unaffected by the earthquake, he’s doing whatever he can to help out.

Masada said students on campus have already surpassed 1,000 cranes, noting that participants at an event coordinated by the University’s Center for Japanese Studies folded more than 1,200 in one day.

“We’re not going to stop at 1,000,” Masada said. “We’ll just keep on doing it.”

— The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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