Today at Berkeley Lab

Berkeley Lab Contributions Keep Japan Disaster Victims Warm

Through the charitable contributions of Berkeley Lab employees, Molecular Foundry scientists Alex Weber-Bargioni (right) and Dominik Ziegler (left) raised nearly $2,800 to keep Japanese citizens displaced after the recent disaster a bit more comfortable.

Ziegler’s wife, Maki Nishizaka (center), contacted Ken Noguchi, a renowned mountain climber and environmental activist guiding relief efforts for devastated areas in northern Japan.

“Deliveries to these areas were restricted by the Japanese government to avoid confusion, so those of us wanting to help from outside of Japan could only send money,” said Nishizaka. “Once we learned Noguchi was collecting sleeping bags and personally delivering them to victims, we decided this was a great way to contribute.”

The team worked with local sporting goods company Mountain Hardwear to send 50 sleeping bags—designed to weather freezing temperatures and protect users from harsh, snowy climates—directly to victims in need. Japanese shipping company Yamato Transport covered nearly the entire cost of delivery.
“We are so grateful for the money we raised in just three days,” said Ziegler. “Since Japan is a highly developed country, it was difficult to foresee what people needed, but having this direct link made it easy for us to help.”

Each sleeping bag contains a greeting card describing how donations from Berkeley Lab employees led to this contribution, and expresses solidarity with the Japanese people during these difficult times.

“When this disaster happened everyone focused on the power plant, but there were people stuck in the snow,” said Weber-Bargioni. “We were able to find a way to ensure every dollar contributed by Berkeley Lab employees went to the victims.”

Go here to watch video from a Japanese news station that shows the delivery of the sleeping bags.