By Eugenio Torrens
In March, Heidi Bernaldo saw a blog on the Girl Scouts of the USA website that piqued her interest. The blog mentioned how after Sept. 11, 2001, Girl Scouts in Japan had sent over cranes to Girl Scouts in the United States. The blog was asking for the favor to be returned in light of the earthquake and tsunami that devastated Japan on March 11.
Bernaldo, the troop mom of Girl Scouts Senior Troop 457 in Wesley Chapel, passed along the blog to one of her scouts, Dana Lawson, and suggested the troop make and send cranes.
The girls were interested, Bernaldo said: “They all agreed to do it, no problem.”
Lawson, 14, is one-fourth Japanese and has family in Sendai, Japan. She was in her first period history class when she her teacher told the class there was an earthquake in Japan. She didn’t learn the extent of the disaster’s damage until later that day.
“I thought it was a really good idea, making the cranes,” Lawson said. “I know how much the idea of making 1,000 cranes as an expression of goodwill toward someone and how much that’s valued over in Japan.”
She also was unable to establish any contact with her family in Sendai. She still hasn’t been able to firmly see if the dozen members of her family in Japan is OK, though she believes they are.
“It’s been hard since so many people are uprooted and we haven’t heard from my family in a while before the quake,” Lawson said.
She went to Temple Terrace to get the origami paper in approximately 20 colors. The money came from funds raised last year by selling cookies. The rest of the money is aimed toward a senior trip for the troop, whose six members are all in high school.
“Girl Scouts worldwide are sisters,” Bernaldo said. “When they heard about the disaster that their sister troops had had in their country, they wanted to make something to make them feel better.”
The girls took to YouTube to learn how to fold the origami cranes. The folding started in June, with the magic number at 1,000 cranes.
“Apparently 1,000 cranes is good luck in Japanese,” Bernaldo said. One thousand cranes, divided by six girls meant each troop member would have folded 166 cranes. Every meeting, the troop would spend the first 15-20 minutes in a crane-making session.
“Girls took paper home and made cranes at home, also,” said Bernaldo, who tried to make a few cranes, but left it to the pros.
“They could whip them out really quick,” she said. “I would find my daughter up at like 1:30 some mornings making cranes.”
Bernaldo said all 1,000 cranes are accounted for and she is just waiting to hear for an address to send them to.