The aftershocks from the giant earthquake that struck Japan were not felt in York County, but to many in Rock Hill, the natural disasters that shook the island nation earlier this month touched their hearts.
To aid in continuing search-and-rescue efforts in Japan, the Upper Palmetto Chapter of the American Red Cross gathered area musicians for a "Jazz for Japan" benefit at Tropical Escape Café and Bar in Rock Hill. The event raised more than $2,400 for disaster relief said Rebecca Melton, executive director of the local chapter.
"You just feel like you have to help in some way," said owner/operator Roger Baldwin. "You just feel so much for those affected that you want to reach out and do something for them. 'Jazz for Japan' helps in some small way."
Inside the North Anderson Road restaurant Sunday night, musicians from as far away as Kannapolis, N.C., and even one who had performed in Japan entertained diners. Twenty percent of the restaurant's gross sales for all of Sunday, including a brunch, is being donated to the American Red Cross relief efforts for Japan.
Neneing Mansilungan, who performed in Japan in the 1980s, said she was honored to have a chance to play at a benefit for a country she "will never forget."
"I feel so much for the people over there and what happened that I wanted to help," she said. "This way, I can be a part of a little bit of relief for Japan."
The event benefits victims of the recent earthquake and tsunami in Japan. More than 10,000 have died, and more than 16,500 still are listed as missing since the March 11 disaster.
"Right now, the Red Cross is still in search-and-rescue mode," Melton said. "Most of the donations at this point are going toward basic needs in Japan: food, water and shelter."
Since the tsunami and earthquake shook Japan, about $10,000 has been donated locally to the Red Cross for relief efforts, Melton said. This figure doesn't include the money raised through Sunday's benefit.
The jazz community came together in recent years for two other American Red Cross fundraisers. About $4,000 was raised for Hurricane Katrina victims, and the same amount was raised for Haiti earthquake victims.
The Bigham family was among numerous patrons who chose to have dinner at Tropical Escape Sunday night. Jill Bigham said her daughter Kayla and her Girl Scout troop helped during the Haiti earthquake fundraiser.
"We wanted to show our support," she said.
"We normally give to the Red Cross after events like this. This allows us to do something extra and have a little fun."
Diners Sunday night were waited on by local volunteer celebrities including state Sen. Wes Hayes, Rock Hill city manager David Vehaun and other area politicians and media representatives.