Students make one origami crane for every dollar donated

Fingers were whirling all this week, bending and folding colourful squares of thin paper into thousands of origami cranes to raise money for Japan in the aftermath of the earthquake and tsunami.

The Japanese International Students’ Association (JISA) is making an origami crane for every dollar donated. The original goal, says Ken Wu, a fourth-year visual arts student and president of JISA, was to raise $1,000, but in their first day, they had already surpassed that goal. As of yesterday, the club had reached $4,500, and is hoping to hit, and possibly surpass, $5,000 by the end of today. “We’re really close to accomplishing that,” he says.

Right: Ken Wu, a fourth-year visual arts student and president of the Japanese International Students’ Association, holds a few of the origami cranes made to raise money for disaster relief in Japan

The crane in Japan has special significance. Anyone who folds a thousand cranes will gain happiness and will get their wish granted. “People fold cranes when they’re going through a hard time,” says Wu.

All the cranes will be sent to Japan along with the donations. In addition, people can send their own personal message written inside the crane.

Today is the last day to drop by one of two tables JISA has set up; the first is close to the Bear Pit in the Ross Building and the second is in Vanier College. The club, however, will still be collecting donations next week at their office in Vanier College.

Left: From left, York students Daniel Lu, Alexandra Hill, May Lacse, Ken Wu and Jeffrey Yu create origami cranes to raise money for the victims of Japan’s earthquake and tsunami

“There are a lot of really generous people,” says Wu. “On the first day, a lot of people dropped 50 dollars, 80 dollars. Just yesterday, some people were dropping a hundred or more dollars. So it’s been really good.”

In fact, they are busily trying to catch up, to make as many cranes as dollars donated. They are behind about 1,500, but the group there yesterday was building them as fast as they could. For some, it was their first time creating anything origami.

But Wu says anyone can drop by and help make cranes. He has taught several students who expressed an interest in helping out how to do it. It’s not hard, he says, once you get the hang of it.

All the proceeds will go to the Japanese Red Cross to help victims of the disaster.

For more information or to donate, contact the Japanese International Students’ Association at or drop by the office at 110 Vanier College.