TOKYO -- After the Great East Japan Earthquake and ensuing tsunami hit Japan's Tohoku region in March 2011, the Major League Baseball Players Trust -- the philanthropic arm of the MLB Players Association -- earmarked $1 million in aid.
But as Players Trust director Melissa Persaud noted Saturday afternoon at the Tokyo Dome, simply giving once and moving on is never enough.
"The players take a long-term approach to their disaster-relief support," Persaud said. "They have learned that too often, after the initial media spotlight fades on a region or people devastated by a disaster, the support fades as well. Yet the needs remain for quite some time.
"The players recognize that their support and active participation years later can help keep the spotlight on the people and area that are still in need."
To that end, the Players Trust has worked with the Japan Society's Earthquake Relief Fund to identify local organizations most in need of its help. Royals pitcher Jeremy Guthrie led a contingent of 12 big leaguers Saturday in meeting with representatives from those organizations, taking a firsthand look at where their support is going.
Guthrie, Rays third baseman Evan Longoria, Astros outfielder Dexter Fowler and others crowded into a small room to meet with organizations such as the Ashoka Japan's Tohoku Youth Venture program, which supports the efforts of high school and college students to contribute to recovery in Tohoku; the Fukushima Organic Agriculture Network, which supports organic farmers in Fukushima who have been affected by radiation contamination; two mental health projects with the Japanese Medical Society of America -- Kokoro-no-Care Nagomi in Fukushima Prefecture and Kokoro-no-Kakehashi in Iwate Prefecture; and a leadership development project with ETIC.
"We as players are very fortunate, and always very excited, to use the help of the Players Trust to make an impact on the world," Guthrie said. "The slogan that we have is, 'Care. Act. Inspire.' Working with Japan Society has allowed us to be able to do this on an international level."