Disaster In Japan Hits Home For Local Student

March 22, 2011 Updated Mar 22, 2011 at 12:25 PM EDT

By Jaclyn Asztalos

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March 22, 2011 Updated Mar 22, 2011 at 12:25 PM EDT

Japan may be thousands of miles away from Western New York but the earthquake and tsunami hit close to home for Canisius High School student Nick Sam and his family.

"We found out that one of my relatives Ken Koshema had died," Nick said.

Nick also has seven family members missing including his two younger cousins who he visited in Japan just a few years ago. Their family fears the worst.

"They drew pictures for us and we were American so they thought we were cool. Now, they are washed away by the tsunami. It's hard to swallow," Nick said.

Nick is now taking things into his own hands, joining with fellow students at Canisius High School to sell t-shirts and wristbands. The money will be donated to a country that has been hit hard.

"My idea for the wrist bands is 'Hope for Japan' on one side then Japanese characters on the other side saying the same thing," Nick said.

Nick's friend Mike Hillery said he is ready to do whatever is necessary to give back.

"I felt really torn up about this event that occurred and I thought it would be a great way to help Nick's family but also show support for the devastation in Japan," Hillery said

Father Fred Betti said Canisius High School is on board.
"Helping out during this time and this relief effort is everything we stand for as a school," Father Betti said.

Now, Nick and is friends are asking other schools to join in the fight to help the wife and child his cousin Ken sadly left behind. They also want to give aid to others who are suffering the wrath of Mother Nature in Japan.

"We can come together as a community and maybe effect at lease few families," student Ryan Bartels said.

Nick's friend and classmate Mike Viola said every little bit helps.

"There was nothing we could do about it as the disaster was occurring so helping out in the aftermath is the best thing we can do but at least it's helping," Viola said.

To find out more about the fundraiser or to donate click here.

Website: http://www.canisiushigh.org/