Several Minnesota schools joined the Paper Cranes for Japan project.
In Japanese culture, an origami crane imparts good health, prosperity and a long life for the recipient.
Now, with the Japanese people surveying devastation left by the recent earthquake and tsunami, the symbolic gesture of giving a crane is taking on new meaning.
That's what spurred several Minnesota schools to join the Paper Cranes for Japan project, a drive to raise money to rebuild the hardest hit areas of Japan.
"It is a simple gesture that uses a symbol of peace and hope," said Amber Kester, a teacher at Proctor High School, near Duluth. "I want the students to see that a little effort can have a big impact."
Kester hopes to collect 1,000 cranes from schools throughout the Proctor school district. So far, about 250 have been collected.
Paper Cranes for Japan (www. studentsrebuild.org/japan), administered by the Bezos Family Foundation, collects the origami birds from schools worldwide.
The foundation will donate $2 per crane to Architecture for Humanity, an organization that helps rebuild disaster areas. The group plans to use the donations to open an office in Sendai, Japan, which was heavily damaged.
Kester said she hopes students recognize the value of service work outside of school.
"This is something that I want them to take with them and practice in their own lives."