We were still reeling from the City Paper‘s annual Best of Charleston party on the morning of Fri. March 11, but the images of the massive destruction in Japan, wrought by an 8.9 magnitude earthquake and its resulting tsunami, sobered us up quick. Over the weekend, we spent a lot of time checking the latest reports and watching with disbelief as a nuclear meltdown seemed imminent and the body count increased. Feeling utterly helpless, we wondered what we could do.

A few emails sent among colleagues asked that precise question, inspiring our promotions and marketing manager Suzie Webster to jump right back into planning mode, despite having just pulled off the largest City Paper event of the year. In little more than a week’s time, she’s put together a collection of local partners to help us mount a large-scale fundraising effort called Lend a Hand to Japan.

We’re working with the S.C. Aquarium, Tristan Restaurant, Icebox Bar Service, and Other Brother Entertainment to host an event on Wed. April 6, from 7-10 p.m. Local restaurants such as Roti Rolls, Triangle Char and Bar, Bushido, and more will serve Japanese-influenced fare. Bartenders will be mixing up drinks, and a DJ will be spinning. Live bands are also being booked.

One hundred percent of the ticket sales and silent auction proceeds will benefit our chosen charities. In addition to the American Red Cross, which has mobilized its response in Japan, we’ve chosen to raise money for the Japanese Association of Zoos & Aquariums (JAZA). This organization, suggested by the folks at the S.C. Aquarium, is helping institutions like the Aquamarine Fukushima and Marinepia Matsushima Aquarium, which experienced critical damage including structural, electrical, and environmental. Because these institutions are not able to distribute basic necessities like food and water, the animals at the zoos and aquariums there have suffered greatly.

While Suzie’s done a remarkable job getting people to participate so far, we’re still looking for restaurants, bars, and businesses willing to donate their time to help us Lend a Hand to Japan. If you’d like to contribute or participate, contact suzie@charlestoncitypaper.com.

And if you’re not in a position to help, we hope you’ll splurge on the $40 tickets, knowing that your money will be going directly to a great cause.

Tickets can be be purchased at the door at the S.C. Aquarium