PORTLAND -- An ancient Japanese legend says folding a thousand paper cranes will bring you good luck, and can even make a wish come true.
But it turns out just one paper crane can also offer a lot of hope, thanks to a local 6th grader who is making a difference.
Twelve-year-old Niasha Oden waits anxiously for the start of the Cranes of Hope club at the Arts and Communications Magnet Academy in Beaverton.
It’s the first after school meeting, and she’s hoping for a good turnout. A handful of girls settle into the conference room and the first order of business begins: teaching everyone there how to fold an origami crane.
“There are 36 folds in a crane,” explains Niasha. Niasha is the pro here. She has already folded more than 5-thousand cranes.
“I can pretty much make folds without thinking about it anymore,” Niasha says. It’s a bit harder for fellow 6th grader Maleah Marger to get the hang of it.
“It’s my first time,” Maleah chimes in.
But all of the girls are eager to try, because these cranes go to a good cause.
“I like that they go to hospital patients and they can make them feel happy,” Jaden Hayes says.
“I wanted to put them to good use instead of just making them for the enjoyment of it,” Niasha adds.
So instead of hanging them in her room, or handing them out to friends, Niasha piles them up in baskets brimming with cranes and good wishes.
“On the green cranes we put stuff like, let hope grow,” says Niasha, “And the pink one is my favorite. It’s got a pig on it and it says hog all the hope.”
Then Niasha delivers them to places like the Compass Oncology Center in Northeast Portland. Nurse Cynthia Stephens had heard about the cranes.
“I found out some of the other locations had them, and I was a little jealous we didn’t have them,” Cynthia said with a smile.
This is the eighth location for Niasha and her Cranes of Hope baskets, and she’s not done yet.
“In the future, I want to be able to look around and see baskets everywhere,” says Niasha.
And it could happen. Through Facebook, the idea has already spread to Montana and even Belgium, which all makes Niasha feel pretty good.
“It kind of makes me feel like they feel when they get a crane. It just fills me with hope and happiness,” she says.
Niasha is inviting everyone to come and learn to fold cranes with her on April 27 in honor of Global Youth Service day.
Check out all the details on the Cranes of Hope Facebook page.