BILOXI, MS (WLOX) - With big smiles on their faces, Yuki Fan and her husband Vitus turned over a generous check to the American Red Cross Friday morning.
"This is a check from Mississippi, all of us, presented to the Japanese," Yuki Fan said.
"We appreciate it. This will go to good help in Japan," said American Red Cross representative Megan Burkes.
"I hope so," Fan said.
The money, totaling $5,672.25, will go to the earthquake and tsunami relief effort in Japan. The drive was spear headed by about 40 members of the Japanese community in south Mississippi. Many of them lived through their own disaster: Hurricane Katrina.
"The first thing we like to do is return the favor. Although we got a lot of help from everywhere, all over the world, and the U.S., we would like to pay it forward," said Vitus Fan.
Many people gave at Yuki's, the Fan's Japanese restaurant in Biloxi. Customers, schools, and business associates pitched in.
"This is really heartwarming. We appreciate what they do for us and they don't even know the Japanese people," said Yuki Fan. "Waiters, waitresses, they put in every day some change to the box there. I'm sure all this warm heart will go through to Japan."
Red Cross representatives were also touched by the outpouring of support.
"They all reached in to their friends and family and we heard stories about some of their future in-laws, young girls who are about 10 years old, breaking their piggy bank to give their Disney World money. That is a touching, touching story," said Burkes.
The two girls donated $120 to the fund. Another relative gave a check for $2,000. The collection drive isn't over yet. The restaurant will continue to leave a plastic container at the checkout counter for anyone who wants to donate.
"Hopefully it helps out a lot because we did see on the TV, on the news, that a lot of people were staying in shelters, have no food and no water and during the extreme cold," said Vitus Fan. "As long as people donate, we will collect it and turn it over to the Red Cross."
The Biloxi office of the American Red Cross has received a total of $12,737 for the tsunami relief fund. That amount includes the donation at Yuki's.