This is a butterfly effect story, the kind where a small action here can have a tremendous effect on the other side of the world.
Last week, Beth Smithson, art teacher at Mount Pleasant Elementary School, invited me to visit her classroom. A parent had contacted her about the "Cranes For Kids" initiative sponsored by OshKosh B'Gosh.
To help victims of the Japanese earthquake and tsunami, the company has promised to donate one item of its clothing for each origami paper crane delivered to one of its stores.
Smithson saw an opportunity to teach her students about an old Japanese art, and for them to help other children.
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Smithson used the nonfiction book "Sadako and the Thousand Paper Cranes" to help her students understand the significance of the origami crane in Japanese culture.
Sadako was a girl who lived in Hiroshima during World War II when the atomic bomb was dropped. She developed leukemia when she was about the same age of some of Smithson's students.
In Japan there is a legend that anyone who makes 1,000 paper cranes will have their wish granted. Sadako's wish was to be well, and she began folding.
At the time of her death, Sadako had completed 644 cranes. Her classmates finished the job for her, making another 356 cranes so that Sadako was buried with 1,000 of the origami birds. Today a monument to Sadako stands in Peace Park in Hiroshima.
In the spirit of Sadako's story, Smithson challenged the children to make 1,000 paper cranes, which would become 1,000 articles of clothing to help the children of Japan.
For an entire week, art class at Mount Pleasant Elementary has been devoted to origami cranes. At first, many of the children looked dubious about making these seemingly complicated paper creations. But after the first few folds, most were confident and proclaiming, "This is easier than I thought it would be!"
A few minutes (and more folding) later, children were lost and looking for help from Smithson and the extra adult helpers in the classroom. The best part of the process is seeing the grins on the students' faces as each completes their crane.
Each crane is then marked with the student's name and added to Smithson's growing collection, which she will deliver Monday.
Many of Smithson's students have so enjoyed making the origami cranes that they've continued on their own.
At last check, fifth-grader Caleb Campbell had already completed 25 cranes and had plans to keep making more. He's been doing origami for a while, so he was able to help some of his fellow students and then kept making cranes on his own after art class.
He's thrilled to be able to help people in Japan that way, since they created this art form he loves.
When I left Smithson's classroom, she estimated that her students would make about 800 cranes leaving her a little shy of the 1,000 goal. She's enlisted scout and church groups to help fold cranes and hopes other students, like Caleb, will keep making more.
I certainly hope 1,000 cranes will be delivered Monday. But whatever number Smithson delivers, it will have a mighty effect a world away.