BAY ST. LOUIS, MS (WLOX) - Students at North Bay Elementary School in Bay St. Louis say it's time to pay it forward. Friday, the school district kicked off a fund raising drive for school children in Japan affected by the recent killer earthquake and tsunami.
Wearing traditional Japanese attire, Kayoko Staples used her native tongue to greet the third grade students at North Bay Elementary.
"This, right here, Northeastern region of Japan is where the disaster hit," Staples said as she pointed to a map.
Staples is a teacher in the district. She was born and raised in Nadasaki, Japan, some 600 miles north of Tokyo, where most of the destruction occurred.
"There has been 10,668 people died because of this disaster. Most of it due to the tsunami, because the big waves swept away a lot of victims. The tsunami that affected this area three weeks ago, those were so strong some of the waves were up to 77 feet and traveled up to six miles inland."
The students at North Bay say they can relate to the pain the Japanese people are enduring right now.
"Lots of people, they have died from the earthquake and tsunami. That's very sad and I just want to help them. We had Hurricane Katrina and lots of our houses were gone. I don't want them to be suffering," said third grade student Chase Cato. His classmate, Tyren Fairconnetue, agreed.
"All their stuff was destroyed and they now live in shelters because they don't have anything to live in," Fairconnetue said.
The students will take part in a fund raising effort for teachers and students in Japan called "Rays From The Bay." The effort will include letters of encouragement from the students.
"We had Hurricane Katrina and lots of kids around the world, they helped us with Hurricane Katrina. So I think it's time for us to help them," Cato said.
"I want to help them get back on their feet," third grade student Kelan Ladner said.
School district leaders say they have been in contact with several schools in Japan to assess their children's needs.