CHATSWORTH, Calif. (3/30/11)--Autoland Inc. will donate a portion of the proceeds of each vehicle purchased through its car buying service to the American Red Cross to aid relief efforts in Japan. On March 11, an earthquake struck off the coast of Japan, causing a tsunami that swept over cities and farmland in the northern part of the country. Recorded as 9.0 on the Richter scale, it was the largest quake ever to hit the country. As the nation struggles with a rescue effort, it also faces the worst nuclear emergency since Chernobyl. As of March 29, the official death toll was raised to more than 11,000, with more than 17,000 people listed as missing, although there may be some overlap between the two groups (New York Times March 29). The final toll is expected to reach nearly 20,000. More than 190,000 survivors remain housed in temporary shelters. “This is a devastating disaster in human terms that’s magnified by the unstable nuclear situation in Japan,” said Marcia Francisco, Autoland’s senior vice president of marketing and business development. “The credit union movement is based on the idea of ‘people helping people.’ That concept goes beyond borders, and we want to do what we can to help the Japanese people as part of the global community.” Beyond the human tragedy, the disaster has also disrupted the Japanese auto industry, said Autoland. Toyota has told its workers to brace for plant shutdowns around the U.S. as inventories run out, though the company has a strong record of keeping employees on payroll through training and other duties if manufacturing is halted (Pennsylvania Credit Union Association’s Life is a Highway March 24). General Motors is the only auto maker that has announced plant shutdowns in the U.S. due to a shortage of Japanese parts. It is idling production at a plant that makes small Chevrolet Colorado and GMC Canyon pickups in Shreveport, La., and laying off more than 50 workers at a New York plant that makes engines for the pickups. “We’re watching that situation closely to see how it might impact members of our partner credit unions who are trying to purchase cars, and how we might be able to help,” Francisco said of the conditions in the auto industry.