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Good Works Again At Women’s Christmas Bazaar

By: Stephen Carr

Date Posted: 2000-12-08

The Okinawa International Women’s Club Christmas Bazaar took place on Monday, attracting 350 to the Camp Lester Officers’ Club. Before lunch, speeches and a Christmas Carol recital by the Kubasaki High School Choir, there was a craft sale to raise money for the many charities supported by the Club.

Numerous tables were piled with crafts mostly home made by members. There were greetings cards, bells, candles, seasonal wreaths, chopstick holders, bottle bags, Santa Claus faces, pine cone ornaments, napkins, red cloth gift bows made to look like poinsettia flowers and many types of gift baskets. These included ones to look at, containing Christmas scenes, others to eat, brimming with canned foods or candy canes and others with usable items like cosmetics.

The proceeds from most of the crafts are allocated to the various charities out of total funds collected. But one stall, selling dolls dressed in kimonos for ¥650 each, was specifically to support a handicapped group. The Nobiru Handicapped Workshop makes craft and production items for sale.

The standard of the crafts was high. They would not have been out of place in a gift shop. The craft bazaar enjoyed brisk sales and some of the tables took only an hour to clear all their merchanise.

In another room was a bake sale and white elephant stands. Items here ranged from elaborate to simple. Small packets of cookies vied with creations such as the Strawberry Rudolph Cake, with a detailed rendition of a reindeer on icing for ¥2000.

The white elephant goods ranged from shisa dogs to a chandelier made from cowrie shells. This section was also a successful fundraiser and in the hour and a half between the bazaar’s opening and lunch, most of the items had gone.

The Christmas bazaar raised $8,000 which will be disbursed to charities in amounts that vary from ¥25,000 to ¥100,000. Last year three handicapped workshops were supported with money to buy such things as an electric fan, a rice cooker, a digital scale and an ice shaver. The ice shaver was to allow the workshop to produce shaved ice for sale.

Another charity supported is the Okinawa Life Hot-Line which organizes telephone help for people suffering from all types of trauma - depression, child abuse, suicidal tendencies.

The Braille Volunteer organization is also helped by the bazaar. Its work is to give blind people a greater range of reading matter by transcribing books into Braille with a special computer.

Another deserving cause is the Drug Rehabilitation Center, a self-help group for people without financial means.

The Asjinosato Day Care Center is another organization that does valuable work by allowing old people to meet and socialize, rather than staying isolated at home.

Overseas charities too benefit from the bazaar. The Japan-Sri Lanka Association has a four year link with OIWC and donated funds have been used for building a kindergarten, buying school uniforms, supplies and lunches.

Another recipient is the Mozambique Christian Mission Maforuga Orphanage which looks after 250 mostly AIDS infected children. Last year it was given $4,000, enough to feed the orphans for a month.

Also benefiting from the OIWC’s largesse are two playgroups and the Red Cross.

The OIWC has been in existence for 44 years and the Christmas Bazaar has been an annual event for 20 years. The Club has annual dues of ¥3000 and organizes activities throughout the year, except during the summer break. Members usually sign up in August and there are meetings most Mondays of the month. The purpose of the club is to foster better understanding between locals and foreigners in Okinawa. Those interested can join culture groups of about a dozen, whose members from both the guest and host communities take it in turns to receive each other in their homes every other month. There are many other activities like tours, cooking classes and festivals.

Those interested should contact: Jennifer Brown 646-6377; Kristin Cordier 633-6710; Eve Raftery 637-3214.

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