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West Hartford Helps Nepal

Courtesy of Umi Sushi & Tapas. Art by Kaps Tanaka

Umi Sushi & Tapas in West Hartford’s Blue Back Square is donating 50 percent of sales on Friday for disaster relief in Nepal, and several other businesses and people have stepped up as well.

Courtesy of Umi Sushi & Tapas. Art by Kaps Tanaka

Courtesy of Umi Sushi & Tapas. Art by Kaps Tanaka

By Ronni Newton

When Taki Tanaka, the general manager of Umi Sushi & Tapas in West Hartford’s Blue Back Square, heard about the devastating earthquake in Nepal, he was immediately driven to do something to help.

Tanaka, who is Japanese, raised $8,000 to support relief when an earthquake and tsunami caused mass destruction in Japan four years ago. Although he has no family in Nepal, “an earthquake is something familiar, a disaster that hit close to home.”

On Friday, May 1, Tanaka will donate a generous 50 percent of sales at the Kaiten-style Japanese restaurant at 53 Isham Rd. to the American Red Cross to support relief in Nepal.

In addition to that donation, Tanaka said he walked around West Hartford and got other businesses to donate gift cards and items that will become part of a teacup-type auction also planned for May 1.

“Everyone so far has been very generous. I’m hoping it goes well and that we get a good amount of money,” Tanaka said.

And although he has no family living in Nepal, his father, Kaps Tanaka, is an artist who often travels to paint in Nepal’s countryside. The image on the poster advertising Umi’s fundraiser was created by Kaps Tanaka.

Another local business that is pitching in to help with disaster relief is Big Y World Class Market.

According to a news release from the American Red Cross, Big Y, which has a location in West Hartford’s Bishops Corner, will be collecting funds to support those affected by the Nepal earthquake from Thursday, April 30 through Sunday, May 17. Donation containers will be available at all registers.

According to the release, the American Red Cross is working with the Nepal Red Cross, other international Red Cross societies, and the International Committee of the Red Cross “to rush support to Nepal in the wake of the devastating earthquake and aftershocks.”

Support includes relief operations as well as “deployment of communications experts and satellite equipment to facilitate work in Nepal, where the infrastructure has been severely damaged,” the release states.

Bijju Khatri, a stylist at the Karen Elizabeth Salon and Academy in West Hartford, is from Nepal and many of her family members still live there. According to a post on the salon’s Facebook page, Khatri’s family members survived but lost their home. She has started a “Connecticut Helps Nepal” fundraiser through the site www.youcaring.com in order to provide necessities and assistance to the people of Nepal.

Others West Hartford residents who are part of the town’s Nepalese community have also started fundraising campaigns. According to the Hartford Courant, Hall High School students Niharika Paudel and Krishma Bashyal, both recent immigrants, still have family in Nepal.

The teens have started a fundraiser through GoFundMe.com, and plan to donate the monies raised to the Nepal Red Cross Society.

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