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Flowers catch on, raise support for Japan
Fundraising efforts will continue
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Contact Masayo Ogawa at


When the earthquake hit Japan, Masayo Ogawa went to work sewing small flowers in the living room of her Gainesville home and then setting them out near a donation box at her church.

If she makes $20 that will help, the Japanese native said she thought to herself, and if she has leftover flowers, she'll give them away to friends.

She hasn't had any leftovers.

"It's just amazing. It's over my head," Ogawa said Thursday after dropping off a batch of flowers to a Gainesville office.

To date, she has sent more than $1,500 to the Japanese Red Cross. She hadn't counted her most recent donations yet, but her stack on Thursday had a few $20 bills in it.

"I didn't even know if people wanted flowers even," she said. "And I didn't know how they were going to take it. But people really came out. I'm just loving it."

Ogawa came to Gainesville more than 20 years ago to attend Brenau University.

It was meant to be a four-year stay, but the town won her over, and now, Gainesville is home. The Times wrote about her fundraising efforts earlier this month.

Ogawa removed the donation box from the Family Life Center at the First Baptist Church a few weeks after placing it there. It was stuffed with cash and at least a dozen checks. One was made out for $100.

Word of her efforts is still making its way around town, so Ogawa took a picture of each fabric flower with a number at the top, which she's sent out through email as a makeshift order form. She works in Alpharetta, and after returning home each night she sews more flowers to fill the orders.

Her project has also connected her to others in Hall County's small Japanese population. One woman she met previously at a church found her number and called to offer support for her project. The woman told Ogawa that she couldn't help sew the time-consuming flowers because of health reasons.

But she could make sushi, and she sent a batch to Ogawa.

Another Japanese woman from Dawsonville also called Ogawa and the two talked about their homeland, sharing the deep feeling of helplessness they feel in the wake of the tragedy.

"As a Japanese person, we talked about how horrible it is to have to go through," she said.

She said she really wanted to do something. She felt the same way as I did. It's just such a far way; she just feels like she can't really do anything."

The fundraising effort has become more than Ogawa ever expected and now, she's not sure when it will end.

For a while, at least, she'll just keep making flowers.

"When I started doing this it was one week, a one weekend project. But I just keep going as long as there is a need for it," she said. "I'll just go ahead and do it. These people in Japan are still having such a problem over there, and I just feel so sorry for them."