Students at Blythe Park School and Central School in Riverside are raising funds to aid victims of the March 11 earthquake/tsunami in Japan, and they wouldn’t mind at all if others donated to the cause.

On May 5, Blythe Park students will celebrate the effort with a special lunch, provided completely by donations from area businesses, including Dr. Pizza, Al’s Pizza, Paisan’s, Olive Garden, Berwyn Fruit Market, Domino’s, Michael Anthony’s, Tony’s Finer Foods, Tischler’s, Bill’s Place and Target.

Organized by the school’s PTA and fourth-grade teacher Rachel King, who is the faculty sponsor of the Blythe Park Student Council, the fundraising campaign is asking each student at Blythe Park to donate a minimum of $5.

But King and Blythe Park Principal Robert Chleboun both said donations from the community at large are also welcome. All money raised is being donated to the Red Cross and earmarked for the Japan relief effort.

“We’d love donations, yes,” said King.

The Blythe Park Student Council organizes fundraisers on a regular basis, from a shoe collection for Share Your Soles (which provides used shoes to people around the world) to fundraisers for the victims of Hurricane Katrina in 2005 and the Indonesian tsunami in 2006.

Meanwhile at Central School, the brand-new student council embarked on its second-ever fundraiser, which it called Cranes for Japan, taking as its inspiration the book Sadako and the Thousand Paper Cranes by Eleanor Coerr.

The students initially set a goal of $1,000 but have far surpassed it. After a bake sale on April 21, student council moderator Steve Elgeness said the effort had raised close to $1,500.

Students also made 1,000 paper cranes, which Elgeness strung in the hallways near the entrance of Central School for the school’s open house. The cranes will be donated to OshKosh B’Gosh in Orland Park. The company will make a clothing donation to the Japan relief effort for each crane donated.

Anyone who would like to pitch in for the cause can contact Blythe Park School at 447-2168 or Central School at 447-1106.

– Bob Uphues