Japan might be a world away from the Lowcountry, but hundreds of locals showed up to the S.C. Aquarium on Wednesday night to offer support for the recovering country. The Lend a Hand to Japan fundraiser brought together concerned businesses and residents to raise more than $20,000 for earthquake and tsunami relief efforts. Everything about the event — from the gorgeous venue to the food to the entertainment — was donated in an effort to raise maximum funds for the Red Cross and the Japanese Association of Zoos & Aquariums. Even the bartenders donated their tips, which totaled $500.

Generous eateries like Tristan, Roti Rolls, Home Team BBQ, and Queen Street Grocery served up tasty, mostly Asian-inspired vittles to hungry attendees throughout the Aquarium. The egg roll was a popular offering, with restaurants like Triangle Char Bar experimenting with creative fillings like shrimp and grits. O-Ku served up a perfectly simple sashimi and mango skewer, Fleet Landing offered addictive stuffed hushpuppies, and Queen Street Grocery overcame some initial hiccups to churn out personalized crepes that were worth waiting in line for. Icebox and local breweries kept the libations flowing.

After a quick move outside when some angry avian Aquarium residents protested, Taiko Charleston entertained the crowd with a set of Japanese dancing and drumming. Once the silent auction had wrapped up, DJ Mateo started a mini-dance party for attendees to work off the calories.

The event was fun — no doubt about that — but the best part of Lend a Hand to Japan was witnessing the way so many people came together so quickly and so seamlessly to help a country in need.