Isle cranes count soars in Minnesota


POSTED: Friday, February 27, 2009

Michelle Reed and Carly Gutzmann are halfway to their goal of collecting 120,313 origami cranes in remembrance of the Japanese-Americans interned during World War II.




Biggest contributor of cranes to win $500

        Cherry Blossom Alumnae, comprising women who are former members of the Northern California Cherry Blossom Queen Pageant court, will award $500 to the organization or individual that donates the largest number of cranes to the Cranes for Peace Memorial Project through July 31.

To compete, an application form must be sent with the cranes. Call Sarah Sasaki at (510) 847-6464 or e-mail .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).




How to Help

        » Mail cranes to Paper Cranes, care of SGI, 2750 Blue Water Road, Eagan, MN 55121. Preferred size is 3 to 4 inches, although other sizes will be accepted.

» Personal internment stories also are sought. E-mail .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) or visit www.120313cranes.org. Folding instructions are available at the Web site.


The Minnesota teens have folded thousands on their own and collected the rest from paper-folders throughout the nation. Among them are 17,433 cranes from Hawaii, most of them donated since the girls' story was told in the Star-Bulletin in September.

Forty-eight boxes were received from the islands, some with macadamia nuts and personal letters included.

“;They look mostly like all of the other cranes, but we do get some with hula dancers and aloha on the paper, as well as a lot of foil cranes,”; said Mary Reed, Michelle's mother. “;We have also gotten several boxes of cranes that were wedding cranes and one that was from someone's 88th birthday.”;

The biggest producers, though, have been volunteers at the Japanese American National Museum in Los Angeles.

“;I've marveled at all the support we've gotten. It's incredible,”; said Carly. “;Reaching the halfway point just shows us how many people are involved in this and making a difference.”;

With each crane received, a lesson of peace and recognition is taught, Carly said.




On the Net

        » www.120313cranes.org

They will continue to collect cranes and search for a suitable home for them.

It all started as a project for National History Day on the topic of “;Triumph and Tragedy in History.”; The girls made a documentary, “;The Art and Soul of Topaz Relocation Center.”;

The 14-year-olds had not been exposed to Japanese culture in their small Minnesota town, and were unfamiliar with the internment camp story. They say they don't want to see history repeat itself.

“;I learned bout many of the different personal experiences of the internees,”; Michelle said. “;With each internee I meet, I gain more insight into how important this memorial project really is.”;