Following the March 11 earthquake and tsunami in Japan, the staff at the Overland Park (Kan.) Convention Center wanted to do something to help. They found a partner in a local relief organization called Heart to Heart International and launched a weeklong drive to collect supplies for those affected by the disaster.

“We felt that with the strong relationships we have in Overland Park, as well as the scope of our reach throughout Kansas, Missouri, and the country, we could make a local impact on a larger scale,” said Brett Mitchell, general manager at the OPCC, which is run by Global Spectrum.

From March 28 to April 1, OPCC asked the community to donate everyday items, which will be packaged into “care kits” and sent to Japan from Heart to Heart’s Global Distribution Center in Kansas City. “With so many displaced, homeless, and without family due to the tsunami, small items like a toothbrush, toothpaste, or a fresh towel can make a large difference,” said Jason Slattery, donor relations specialist at Heart to Heart. “We are thrilled the convention center wants to be involved.”

Washcloths, shampoo, combs, toothpaste, toothbrushes, hand towels, and soap are among the items being collected, along with monetary contributions. 
Donations can also be made online at

While help pours in, the nation of Japan continues to feel the effects of the earthquake, tsunami, and nuclear crisis, with the meetings and tourism economy among the victims. “The devastating disaster has had an enormous impact on Japan’s inbound tourism. While many areas in Japan remained unaffected by the disaster, they are also suffering from the sudden decrease in international visitors. We are deeply concerned that this will not only affect Japan’s tourism industry directly, but also will have a very negative impact on our industry partners around the world,” said Takatoshi Mamiya, president of Japan National Tourism Organization.

However, with the highest priority given to relief efforts, the Japanese government has decided to temporarily pause its tourism promotion activities, he added. “Once the situation in Japan stabilizes, we will strive to resume all promotional activities as soon as possible. We look forward to warmly welcoming our visitors in the very near future,” he continued, thanking people all over the world for their “warm messages,” support, and “generous contributions.”