Mugs plus for tsunami victims

ORANGE - Sue Yamaguchi has found a creative way to reach out to tsunami victims and now all she needs are helping hands and imaginations big and small, young and old.

Yamaguchi, a West Haven resident, and owner of Ceramic Fun Time, has 300 ceramic mugs waiting to be painted.

She wants folks to come into the store and give them a personal touch before they are shipped to the areas where tsunami victims are rebuilding their lives.

"It's a nice way to just let people know they're being thought of on a personal level," Yamaguchi said. "Creatively, it's an expression of feelings for people here to design a mug or send a message."

Yamaguchi, who once lost all she had in a house fire, said all the big-ticket donations are great and necessary, but simple, aesthetically pleasing items with personal value can bring a different kind of smile.

"It just adds a perk to someone's life," she said.

Yamaguchi is hoping that a shipping company can help with a discount or other means to get the items to the disaster area, as that will be her biggest expense. Any money left after costs will go to victims, she said.

She wants to send the cups in bags along with soaps donated by her friends at Milford's Mayflower Motel and dental hygiene kits Yamaguchi purchased. An individually packaged cookie and Tootsie Roll pop will also be included in each package, she said.

Yamaguchi is asking those who paint a mug to make a donation in an amount of their choice to help cover the cost of glazing the mugs and shipping, but lack of money shouldn't be a barrier to pitching in to paint a mug, Yamaguchi said.

If you have the spirit, Yamaguchi wants you to paint - money or not.

The store is located in Liberty Square Plaza, 501 Boston Post Road and is open for painting Tuesdays from noon to 6 p.m.; Wednesdays from noon to 8 p.m.; Thursdays from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.; Fridays, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Saturday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. The store is closed Mondays. Yamaguchi, who will find a way to label how old the artist of each mug is, said no one is too young or old to create a mug that will make someone's face light up.