Harbor Mesa Lions Club President Jennifer Kelder, left, holds the Certificate of Achievement for the club's school box project. It was presented by Lions International President Eberhart Wirfs and his wife, Margit, and Lions District 4L4 Governor Norm MacKenzie, while Harbor Mesa Public Relations Chairwoman Carol Van Holt looks on. (Courtesy Jim DeBoom / March 15, 2011)

Following last week's earthquake and tsunami in Japan, Eberhard J. Wirfs, chairman of the Lions Club International Foundation, e-mailed this statement to club members:

"Lions, we respond immediately, alongside our fellow Lions of Japan. Within hours of the disaster, Lions Clubs International Foundation committed over $1.25 million [or ¥101.07 million] … for immediate relief for Japan. This includes a major catastrophe grant, six emergency grants and designated donations from Lions worldwide. We also established a designated fund for Lions to directly support this disaster."

Donations can be made to the Lions Relief fund at http://www.lcif.org/donate.

Other service clubs are reaching out to Japan, too.

Rotarians are being encouraged to contribute funds to the Rotary Foundation Rotary Japan and Pacific islands 2011 Disaster Recovery Fund, according to Roger McGonegal, past district 5320 governor and Newport Beach resident. Rotarians in affected areas will identify and determine how best to help these communities recover after initial disaster relief efforts are completed.

The contributed funds will not be used for immediate disaster relief but for recovery efforts. Contributions to the fund will be made available to clubs and districts in the affected areas for participation in Rotary Foundation Matching Grants and Global Grants. As with all matching grants and global grant projects, Rotary Japan and Pacific Islands 2011 Disaster Recovery Fund grants will require Rotary clubs or districts in at least two countries (a partner outside of the project country and a partner within the project country) to work together to plan, implement, and complete the project. The projects must involve active personal Rotarian participation. To make a donation to the Rotary Relief efforts, visit http://www.rotary.org.

Soroptimist International, which expressed its heartfelt concern for those affected by the disaster that struck Japan, has set up the "Japan Disaster Relief" Fund. Contributions earmarked "Japan Disaster Relief" may be sent to Soroptimist International of the Americas, 1709 Spruce St., Philadelphia, P.A. 19103.


Arbor Day activities

On Saturday, at least 30 members of Rotary Clubs of Newport-Balboa and Costa Mesa titivated (spruced up) more than 2,300 eleocarpus decipiens, more commonly called Japanese blueberry, seedlings in preparation for presenting them to all the public and private schools in Newport-Mesa at a small ceremony this week.

The Arbor Day activity was started in 1969 by the late Gen. Thomas F. Riley, Newport-Balboa's past president and chairman of the Board of Supervisors, and his good friend Cecil Schira, then president of Hines Nursery. For the past 43 years, Rotarians have given more than 98,500 trees to third-grade classes in public and private schools in Costa Mesa and Newport Beach.

As they visit third-grade classes, Rotarians point out that trees provide beauty and shade, help fight effects of pollution, provide oxygen and combat the effects of global warming, according to Peter Smith, Arbor Day chairman for the Rotary Club of Newport-Balboa. A big tree in a 15 gallon pot will be planted on Tuesday at 1 p.m. at Whittier Elementary School, 1800 N. Whittier, Costa Mesa, in a Arbor Day ceremony attended by school officials and Rotarians, according to Smith.


Orange County then and now

Author Chris Epting will discuss his latest book, "Orange County Then and Now," and talk about some offbeat county history at the March 20 meeting of the Costa Mesa Historical Society.

Epting is the author of 18 books, including "James Dean Died Here," "Roadside Baseball," "Led Zeppelin Crashed Here" and "Vanishing Orange County." He also writes for a variety of outlets, including the Los Angeles Times, AOL News and Orange Coast Magazine. He is the host of "Forgotten Orange County," the TV series on PBS SoCal, and lives in Huntington Beach with his wife and two children.

Doors open at 2 p.m., and the program will follow at 2:30 p.m. with free admission and refreshments for all. The Historical Society is at 1870 Anaheim Ave. next to Lions Park in Costa Mesa. For further information, call (949) 631-5918, or visit http://www.costamesahistory.org.


Thought for the day

"Where I was born and where and how I have lived is unimportant. It is what I have done with where I have been that should be of interest."