Each holiday season since the 3.11 disasters, Place to Grow (PTG) reminds rebuilding communities of Miyagi and Fukushima prefecture that they are not forgotten.
Bringing, a message hope, fun and friendship, the Santa Soul Train (SST) is a 3-day series of events on Dec.15-17th, 2018 that begin with volunteers facilitating a card and stocking exchange between children in Tohoku and supporting communities throughout Japan. This project culminates in a lively banquet for over 450 guests at Hotel Kanyo in the town of Minamisanriku in Miyagi prefecture.
Over 500 survivors and 100 volunteers are expected this year from Tokyo, Sendai, Nagoya, Yamagata, Aomori, the USA, the UK, Ireland, Canada, Australia, Italy and more - to celebrate what it means to be EMPOWERED. The Santa Soul Train officially took this name in 2014 after celebrity Stuart O energized the children and parents in a dancing “soul train” around the venue of the banquet.
We started this tradition 7 years ago on the first Christmas after the Great East Japan Earthquake.
This year we aim to deliver stockings to 1500 children and have over 500 residents participate in team-building holiday events held in 8 towns along the eastern Tohoku coastline. We expect this year’s Santa Soul Train will cost over 3 million yen and require 100 volunteers.
Our goal in this campaign is to raise enough financial support to make the 2018 Santa Soul Train a success in addition to expand our monthly creative expression workshops to include leadership training.
We are kicking off local youth leadership programs at this year’s SST as we work with local leaders to encourage the youth to plan songs, perform, and support the emceeing of the event. Our plan is to gradually equip the community to drive the SST tradition locally through self-sustaining partnerships with supporting organizations in Tokyo.
Download the Santa Soul Train 2018 PDF deck here.
Preparation starts 3 months in advance with stocking-stuffing, card-making, and volunteers coordinating routes, drop off locations, and the flow of entertainment and activities for the local participants.
PTG and local teachers organize creative expression workshops where Tohoku children make holiday cards. Meanwhile community members and volunteers in Tohoku and Tokyo stuff stockings with small toys, sweets, and their own cards. Overseas supporters also send their homemade cards to a local post office in the town of Shizugawa, which will set up a “Santa’s Post Office” November 10~December 10.
On the weekend of December 15, volunteer Santas will visit Tohoku towns and schools to pick up the cards and give each child a stocking in return with a surprise greeting card from a new friend in the region, Tokyo, or overseas! The banquet follows.
Interested in volunteering?
Get in touch on Facebook messenger!
If you’ve worked in the world of supporting recovery, you know the age old challenges that comes with dependency: depression and victimization. The long term emotional impacts, suicide, and broken communities are the real long-term tragedy. What survivors face today, now, in Tohoku, is a never-ending rebuilding process in small rural villages. And this is what makes events like this year’s Santa Soul Train so important.
To pull this off, we need help doing everything from entertaining to prep and organization, cooking and project management, and for those that can not join us, Please donate and sponsor stockings for children up and down the coast of Tohoku.
The Santa Soul Train holiday reunion is one in a series of community workshops and events held by Place To Grow for children and families recovering from earthquakes and disasters. Every year during the holiday season we bring this message of hope, fun and friendship to post-disaster neighborhoods, and participate in an international festival.
The community members both young and old of MinamiSanriku have become Inspired Volunteers themselves. From 2018 they are taking the lead to keep this festival alive and develop it further into their community fabric and as a source of inspiration to the neighbouring towns.
Sponsor a stocking today!
Support a child in post-disaster communities.
1 x STOCKING = ¥3,000
This is how we break the cycle of depression and loneliness that too often takes hold after major disasters. We continue to be that “someone in your corner” that reminds you not to give up – the cheerleaders that say “we are rooting for you!” We have been, and intend to continue to be there for the survivors.
Last years Santa Soul Train event brought:
500+ Local Community Survivors
50+ Outside Volunteers
50+ Local Volunteers
1,500+ Children Receiving a Card and a Gift
3,000,000+ Yen Raised in Funding and Equivalent Donations
300+ Hours of Volunteer Time
100+ Hours Working Alongside Survivors
Many More Cards and Gifts delivered to 8 locations up and down the Tohoku Coast.
+ Awareness for Monthly Place to Grow Workshops
TV Celebrity Stuart-O will bring his dynamite energy-dance act, and have the children, the parents, and the entire room up and dancing in his trademark Soul Train collaborative performance.
TV celebrity Hayami Yu is donating her time to MC the event and also to perform on stage.
Singer Charlie Okamura brings his charm and brilliant presence to life on stage to delight with a variety of traditional songs.
Team Misawa from the US Navy/Air Force base is sending troops to volunteer, create cards, and send cookies and goodie bags made by the children and mothers of their community.
American School in Japan
Ohana International School
Nagoya International School
Nishimachi International School
K International School
Fukuoka International School
PS. IMPORTANT SPONSOR NEWSFLASH
We’re excited to announce that we’ll be giving away two all-expense FREE luxury trips to Minamisanriku in 2019! Including all you can eat breakfast buffet, a suite at the Kanyo Hotel with outdoor onsen, sauna, massage & karaoke, local town storytelling tour, and dinner at the local shotengai - fresh seafood, miyagi beef, drinks and more!
To win this prize, SHARE THIS PAGE on Facebook/Instagram and your name will be entered once. Then, for each ¥3,000 DONATED to Santa Soul Train, your name will be entered again!