Botetourt County has strong ties to Japan. The county's largest employer Dynax is a Japanese company. Now the county is contributing to Japanese relief.
Botetourt County will match donations raised in the community, up to a total of $10,000. County administrator Jerry Burgess says the county is using current year budget savings.
Burgess says it only makes sense to help the Japanese people telling News 7 "it's the least we could do. They (Dynax) contribute to Fire and Rescue, they contribute to our schools, they participate in the community in many different ways, so they are part of us."
The county will accept donations until the end of April. If the match is met, Botetourt County will give the Japanese Red Cross $20,000.
Students at Lord Botetourt and James River High Schools have been raising money for Japanese relief for more than a week. Students at Lord Botetourt have already collected more than $2,300.
Teachers and students have a personal connection to the Japanese people. Dynax pays for an exchange program. Two county students travel to Japan every year and two Japanese students come to our area. The program has been around since 1999.
Organizers say students have been more than willing to donate. Katelyn Forbish, a junior at Lord Botetourt, told News 7 "I think it should be a goal for everyone everywhere to help Japan because we're all here together."
Teacher Patricia Kapral runs the exchange program. She has been to Japan. She is surprised by the response at the school. Kapral told News 7 "some of them are like I don't have anything today. I will bring tomorrow and then they do it and then some of them whip out a 20, it's been amazing."
Several local companies with ties to Japan have also been raising money. Employees at Yokohoma in Salem are collecting money during the day and outside at the gates during shift change. The company will match all employee contributions.