HONOLULU (KHON2) — Jane Tateyama felt great pride when the Hawaii Okinawa Center was built in Waipio and she wanted to find a way to support it and honor her roots.
Tateyama figured she would start making crafts.
“In the beginning we had these paper crafting and all this kind of small items like gift tags and whatever and it took off,” Tateyama said.
What started out as small crafts being sold in the center’s gift shop 13 years ago has grown into quite an operation. They are called the Monday Crafters and consist of a group of about 30 volunteers. They would gather every Monday before the pandemic.
“It’s fun. We all get together, talk story and the best part I think is the potluck,” Tatayama said. “The ono food.”
They are also busy making crafts from recycled materials.
“So when I saw them sewing and bringing all kinds of items, I thought I can do something like that,” member June Tamashiro said.
A quilt made from old scraps sells for $18 and a mask made from a recycled Okinawan festival T-shirt goes for $10.
“So we thought ‘oh, maybe it’s just a drop in the bucket but at least we’re helping them out,’ so we were happy,” Tatayama said.
It turns out that their sales were more than just a drop in the bucket.
“So over 13 years on average, they raised between $10,000 and $12,000 per year so we’re easily close to $150,000 over the entire time they’ve been together,” said Jon Itomura, executive director of the Hawaii United Okinawa Association.
The Monday Crafters have not been able to gather like they used to, but they continue to make merchandise at home and sell their items online.
“It’s your artwork, art there’s no mistake, so do what you can, do the best you can, so that’s all you can ask for,” Tamashiro said.
They also donate their creations to nursing homes in Hawaii and Okinawa.
“There’s an Okinawan word or phrase called ‘shinkanucha,’ and that means working together for the common goal and that’s what the Monday Crafters represent and have given to our association,” Itomura said.
As much as the Monday Crafters have given, they say, they have received aloha with each item they have made and sold.
“Oh we feel so proud and we feel so happy that they’re enjoying it and we made at least one person happy,” Tatayama said.