"Toynami": Telluride Local Promotes Help For Japanese Kids

Japan Children Air - JDMcDuff - web Talk about living your dream.

Travel to exotic locations, her day job, has fed longtime Telluride local and artist Nancy Craft's passion for color: over the years, Nancy's work for Esprit travel has been all about creating and leading art tours, mostly in Asia. Especially Japan.

For 20 years, Esprit Travel has sent travelers to Japan to explore the country's culture and arts.

"The hallmark of our cultural tours is the introductions we make to Japanese people," explained Nancy. "Our travelers, therefore, have profound, often life- altering experiences with the people of Japan and hold them dear in their hearts. In fact, because our colleague, Steve Beimel, lived in Sendai for many years, we have taken many groups to north eastern Japan, not normally on the tourist path."

To pay back for all the country has given and in response to the earthquake and tsunami of March 11, Esprit's extensive network of past clients, friends, churches, and other organizations have requested ways to assist directly and more personally than a dollar donation to a faceless international aid group. Esprit's response: "Toynami," an initiative to send small toys to displaced children in relief centers.

"We heard that in a crisis situation like this one, once basic needs are met, kids need to have fun to regain a sense of normalcy, even while their lives are turned upside down," Nancy added. "Esprit announced 'Toynami' on March 18 via an email blast on on our Facebook page and toys immediately began rolling into our home office. We plan to continue this program for as long as there is a need."

Esprit's larger vision is to adopt a town and help with its recovery.  

"We have had inquiries from previous clients with significant resources at their disposal looking for ways to help. For example, the business of one part participant is manufacturing solar street lights, and the man wants to donate his product. We are in the process of looking for the right town," concluded Nancy.

Follow this link to Esprit's "Toynami" page: http://esprittravel.com/aboutus/earthquaketsunamiaid.html

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