Gene Pedrotti knew he had to do something when he saw the devastation caused by the magnitude 8.9 earthquake and the tsunami in Japan. He decided to raise $50,000. His plan was to match every donation made at his store, Pedrotti Ace Hardware, up to $25,000.
"The logistics were pretty easy," said Pedrotti. "The hard part was making sure the cashiers asked people to donate."
The cashiers did their part. On Wednesday, Pedrotti handed a $50,000 check to Meredith Terrell of the Solano County office of the Red Cross.
Then he walked out the front of his store and showed off his banner declaring the fundraising goal had been upped to $100,000.
"We're going to kick the can farther down the road," said Pedrotti.
Also in attendance at the store Wednesday morning were Benicia High School students Briana Valenzuela and Carley Barrett, who raised more than $1,000 for Japan disaster relief.
According to Pedrotti, the majority of the donors were customers who would donate the change from purchases. He estimated about 900 donations were made at the register and an additional 100 came in the form of larger checks donated by people who had heard he was matching donations.
While the number of donors was greater at the cash registers, the money raised was about even between the two groups.
In an email to customers and donors, Pedrotti thanked them for their support and announced his intention to raise another $50,000 by the end of April.
Anyone wishing to make a donation and have it matched can drop their donation off at Pedrotti Ace Hardware. Pedrotti is encouraging people to make checks out to the Red Cross for tax purposes, and bring the checks to the store. He will match the donation.