AWWA donates millions as it serves community

The AWWA President Melissa McDaniel presents a check to Chanpuru House Director Yumiko Yonaha to purchase a refrigerator for the facility that will allow Chanpuru House to conduct cooking classes and teach students about healthy eating.

Many people aren’t aware of the American Women’s Welfare Association, or the countless projects it undertakes on behalf of five military spouse organizations on Okinawa, or the activities that lad to contributions of more than $7 million over the past four decades to local sports, scouting civic and private organizations on the island.

AWWA was created in 2972 to coordinate and consolidate the financial resources of local spouse groups, while creating opportunities to for positive impact on American and Japanese charities on Okinawa and surrounding islands.  The organization is a link-up of the Army Community Group of Okinaawa, which operates the Army’s Okinawa Gift Shop on Torii Station, the Okinawa Enlisted Spouses Club, which opeates the Kadena Thrift Shop selling used items donated to the store, the Kadena Officers’ Spouses’ Club, which operates the Kadena Gift Corner on Kadena, the Marine Officers’ Spouses’ Club which operates the Marine Island Treasures Gift Shop on Camp Foster, and the Navy Officers’ Spouses’ Club on Okinawa, which operates the Fleet Gift Shop on Camp Shields.

The five spouse organizations combine their profits and direct charitable giving together through AWWA.  Representatives from each spouse organization form the AWWA board to evaluate donation requests and make commitments of funds to both American organizations and local Japanese welfare facilities.  Over the past 40 years, AAWA has contributed more than $7 million to various charities.  It has assisted American families ease the burden of school events and competitions held overseas, as well as to provide materials to worthy organizations that have limited fundraising abilities of their own.

Japanese donations are largely to assist the elderly, the mentally and physically disabled, and orphaned youth on Okinawa and the other Ryukyu Islands.  AWWWA donations have improved the quality of life for many through such activities as procuring handicapped accessible vans, weaving looms, pottery kilns, and vacuum pack sealers.  Members make annual visits to Okinawa facilities, while building relationships with the different organizations.