5000 Peace Cranes for Schools


This year, as part of the church’s Living Lent Ministry Opportunities Program, the First United Methodist Church of Medford set a goal of folding 2,000 peace cranes in order to present a thousand cranes to two local elementary schools. The church’s Living Lent planning team thought it would be a good idea to do the peace cranes with their partner school, Jackson Elementary.

In the church’s ongoing relationship with Jackson Elementary they have contributed school supplies, provided 100 Christmas dinners to families from the school that are in need and, this past winter, made and donated 350 winter hats to the students. The initial goal of 1,000 cranes was raised to 2,000 and the church added another school where many of the church’s children attend.

Origami peace cranes come from an ancient Japanese legend that promises that anyone who folds 1,000 origami cranes will be granted a wish by a crane. The thousand origami cranes were popularized through the story of Sadako Sasaki, a Japanese girl who was two years old when she was exposed to radiation from the atomic bombing of Hiroshima during World War II. Sasaki soon developed leukemia and, at age 12, inspired by the senbazuru legend, began making origami cranes with the goal of making one thousand. In a popular version of the story as told in the book Sadako and the Thousand Paper Cranes, she folded only 644 before her death. The Sadako story was shared with the congregation at the beginning of Lent as a way of introducing the idea and praying for peace. 

According to Pastor John Tucker, “The idea was to present our community partners with symbols of peace and support as our culture deals with the growing problem of violence.” When the congregation responded by folding 5,000 peace cranes on Sundays during Lent and in their homes throughout the week, three more schools were added to the original plan and after displaying the peace cranes on Easter Sunday, a team from the church presented the five schools with a thousand peace cranes each. The Origami Club at the Hoover Elementary School helped fold some of the cranes and when we presented the cranes back to the school the students were convinced that they could tell which cranes they had folded.