Kupuna Life: Quilting for Keiki

Kupuna Life

HONOLULU (KHON2) — Before the stay-at-home mandate, before social-distancing, the creator of these quilts, Charlotte “Char” Katayama welcomed KHON2 into her home.

“I’m putting a quilt together for my quilt group,” said Katayama.

She is one of more than 50 women on Oahu in the Keiki Aloha Quilts Club.

“I think I’m sewing since I was 8 -years-old,” she said.

KHON: How long is that?

“Years and years,” she laughed.

“I just enjoy sewing, so I could do it all day. Even at night. I don’t go to bed until late at night,” said Katayama.

“When I went to my first meeting, I was just so amazed,” said the club’s President Carolyn Dias. “These women were not just sewing pieces of scrap together. You could feel and see the amount of creativity and skill and love that was going into each quilt.”

Each quilt gets a patch and they’re taken to the club meetings twice a month.

“The quilts collected at each of the meetings are gathered up and delivered to one of our recipient organizations,” said Dias.

“You can hear how excited they are when they learn they get to take one of the quilts home for them,” said Jenna Tomas, who is the Program Director of Friends of Children’s Justice Center of Oahu. “You know these quilts help remind children that somebody cares about them.”

The non-profit Friends of the Children’s Justice Center of Oahu, which serves child victims of sexual abuse, felony physical abuse, sex-trafficking, or who witnessed a violent crime, is one of the 11 groups or hospitals that receive the quilts.

“We’re just so grateful to be able to share this joy with child victims in need of some comfort,” said Tomas.

But the delivery of quilts has been put on hold and the club meetings have been canceled because of this pandemic. Member though, have been keeping in touch with email.

“I don’t want the ladies to feel forgotten so this is the way we communicate now,” said Dias.

And now many club members are also sewing mask: Rose for Queen’s Medical Center, Alison for the VA Hospital where she’s a nurse practitioner, Helen for Kapiolani Medican Center, and Erika for the Sullivan Wound Center and others, Donna for Masks4Hawaii — just to name some.

Many club members remain diligently sewing for the keiki because that need never goes away.

“We’re trying to make sure that we’re doing something productive and when we finally get together to meet, we’ll have hopefully a great number of quilts to go back to our recipient organizations,” said Dias.

“I think we do like, I think last year we had over 700 quilt last year,” said Katayama.

Katayama says she only sees happiness when she gifts quilts to friends and family. She says she can only imagine the happiness of a keiki.

What she calls ‘her small contribution,’ we call it the “greatest” gift.

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