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OIWC gives donations to sixteen different organizations

By: Kenny Ehman

Date Posted: 1999-06-11

The Okinawa International Women's Club (OIWC) had their last luncheon for the club's 98' - 99' season this past Monday, June 7. As always, the final meeting for these women was dedicated to the many volunteer and non-profit organizations doing charity work both here on the island and abroad. In recognition of the various forms of humanitarian aid and work performed by these groups the OIWC donated a total of 1,850,000, providing assistance to continue helping children and others around the world. Presentations were made at the Butler Officer's Club to sixteen different organizations, finalizing one year of fund raising by the OIWC.

A huge Christmas Bazaar and many other mini bazaars were the primary sources of fund raising for the OIWC. Vice President Robi Sanders explained that 100% of all money received at their annual bazaars have been donated to other groups. Members volunteered to make different craft items and baked goods, which were mostly re-purchased again by each other, making the OIWC a very unique organization. Relying on the generosity of its own members has helped the OIWC to become one of the most well known charity organizations in Japan.

According to Sanders this year's fund raising activities were a huge success. "I think that we've accomplished a tremendous amount this past year. It's all due to the hard work of our members. Each and every member has created crafts and devoted their time and energy," she explained.

For Sanders the occasion was bitter-sweet; she will be leaving Okinawa after spending eight years as a member of OIWC, of which two of those years she served as Vice President. "This has been the most rewarding and educational club I've ever been involved with since coming here, she commented. "I highly recommend it."

Recipients of OIWC's charity also expressed their appreciation for the hard work the women have done throughout the year. Linda Bate, a teacher for the AmerAsian school in Ginowan, was on hand to receive one of the donations given by OIWC. "We are really grateful because it will mean establishing a better curriculum for the children," stated Bate.

Jameson Mappala, who has donated many items to the Philippines, including a much needed fire-truck, was another volunteer who received a contribution from the OIWC for his humanitarian efforts. Mappala said that he will use the money to help pay for the shipment of another fire-truck. "This is going to help a lot to continue the project," commented Mappala.

Other recipients among the sixteen groups total, included the Camp Hansen Group of Wives, Drug Abuse Rehabilitation Center in Ginowan (DARC), Naha Handicapped Workshop, Kazakhstan Orphanage, and the Mozambique Christian Mission.

Although the volunteer work for charity done by the OIWC is a large part of the group's function, its primary purpose is to foster better understanding between the Japanese and foreign communities here on Okinawa. The club holds monthly luncheons for all members to help create friendships and international exchange. There are also smaller culture groups of ten to twelve women, who do a variety of activities with each other: cooking, shopping, and sharing traditional customs are all part of the many experiences the women of OIWC receive.

"One thing I learned about Okinawan and Japanese people is that they're so loyal to their friends," mentioned Sanders. "Many women have maintained correspondence with friends who have returned to the U.S. for several years."

Newly elected President Linda Cummings expressed her enthusiasm for the next coming year. The new OIWC season will begin with a welcome-coffee gathering at the Kadena Officer's Club on August 30 for new members. For more information on OIWC events, or on becoming a member, call Linda Cummings at 633-8031.

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