NORTH OGDEN -- North Ogden Elementary School Principal Ralph Aardema and teacher Jolaine Garner were anxious about approaching the school community about donations for Japan.
After all, the school had rallied to help two families that had lost their homes to fire in the past eight months.
Aardema and Garner feared they might encounter donor fatigue from people who had given so much already, but they couldn't turn their eyes away from the needy across the ocean.
"When I saw those mothers with their babies, with nowhere to go and sitting on cement floors, I knew there was something we could do," Garner said. "And so here we are."
Students, teachers and parents spent last Friday afternoon cutting and tying fleece blankets to send to Japan next month. Garner sent out a flier earlier last week with her idea about sending blankets, and fabric, money and offers of time came flooding in.
She showed her students the news clips, and students started to ask what they could do to help as well.
Garner called the Red Cross and LDS Humanitarian Services, and most of what they requested was money, but she wanted her students to do something a little more hands-on, so she called her brother -- a private pilot who flies to Japan on occasion -- to see if he or anyone he knew would be going over anytime soon.
He told her someone would be going next month, so she knew her plan would work.
Aardema was excited by the idea, but also wondered what the response would be because of all the other service and donations people have already given in a very tight economy.
"I thought, 'Oh man, they are tapped' -- but you know, they still have heart left," he said as he smiled at his students happily working and chatting with each other. "I have seven teachers here, too, and it's Friday afternoon!"
Aardema and Garner were impressed with everyone who came out to help. So far, students have raised $260 in cash and made 93 blankets to send to Japan in the next few weeks.
They are still accepting donations of fabric and money.
Porter Holliday wouldn't have missed it.
The 9-year-old admits to feeling sad when he watched the suffering in Japan. He showed his mom the note about the service project. His family donated a blanket, and he came to help.
"I like tying the knots and thinking of how I can help those people after that giant tsunami," Porter said.
"I just like Japan," said 9-year-old Kelsey Johnson.
"I wanted to help make (the blankets)," she said as she showed some of her handiwork.
Garner said she and other teachers took the opportunity to tell the students they were doing humanitarian service and explained what that meant.
"It means to show love and kindness," said 8-year-old Kennedy Staples.
Garner feels it is important to show the children that, even though Japan is so far away, they can still help.
"I think it is really neat we have the opportunity to teach these kids about empathy for something they have never experienced and see that they may be able to make a difference."