Relief Efforts for Japan

Julia Ballent is a Naperville resident of Japanese descent and has family members in Japan. After the first earthquake last month, she couldn’t get in touch with them.

“Thank God they’re ok, but it’s just devastating,” said Ballent.

After knowing her family was ok, Ballent wanted to do something to help those struggling in Japan. When she heard the staff at Naperville’s Meson Sabika restaurant was hosting a benefit, she called her friends and invited them to lunch.

The restaurant donated 100% of its revenue last Monday to the American Red Cross for earthquake relief in Japan. Despite the fact he wouldn’t be making a profit, owner Hossein Jamali said he didn’t mind being in the red for the day.

“It depends on how you define losing,” said Jamali. “We are not taking anything for our costs, but I think we gain a lot of pleasure.”

Friends and regular customers of Meson Sabika weren’t surprised by Jamali’s generosity.

“That’s Hossein, and knowing him the way we know him from the (rotary) club, he’s done this on every occasion,” said Curtis Reed, a Naperville resident.

Diners came out in groups to help make the day a success. Nearly 400 reservations were made leading up to the fundraiser. That’s more than double what’s average for a Monday.

“Only in Naperville, look at the volunteers that we have here and the spirit of reaching out to help people in need,” said Chuck Seidel, a Naperville resident.

The fundraiser wasn’t Jamali’s first. He’s held similar events after the earthquake in Haiti, Hurricane Katrina, as well as others.

The restaurant raised a little more than $11,000, but will write a check for $15,000.

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