Question: What types of items do you accept/not accept?
Answer: We currently accept pretty much anything except clothing that has rips, tears, holes, or stains. We accept clothing of all ages and sizes. We don't accept vacuums, carpets, comforters, pillows, large furniture, broken/dirty/unserviceable toys. We also accept non-perishable canned food items (as long as the label is still attached and the expiration date is at least a month from the date of donation). If you have a question a specific item please feel free to message us.
Question: Why does it take a bit for Help Oki to reply back to my message?
Answer: We are a very small staff here at Help Oki and run an English Language School (www.English-Appetite.com) full time, to include Bullfight/MMA fight ring announcing and voice recordings from various companies here in Okinawa. We typically receive anywhere from 15-20 messages, emails, phone calls, text messages every day about helping Okinawa and try to reply as fast as we can when time allows us. Help Oki is growing and we hope to be able to hire more staff members to assist us with running our volunteer community in order to create more opportunities for you.
Question: I want to donate and want to know the process in how to?
Answer: If interested in donating the best way to contact us is via our Help Oki Facebook page: @helpingokinawa. Our team members Daphne or Chris should reply to your message shortly. Usually, they first questions they will ask is what base you are on or near and how many bags you would like to donate to help others.
Question: What exactly does Help Oki do with all the donations? Are they sold?
Answer: After Help Oki receives your donations we take them back to our headquarters and have them examined to make sure they are gently loved and sorted by type (winter/summer/boys/girls, etc). Once they are sorted we go through our list of families currently in need and what clothing/home item requests they have (size, type, etc). We coordinate with those less fortunate families to get them the items needed, as well as, talk to our team of volunteers to see what families or individuals they know of that might need such items. After trying to find a home for all donations, we do sell the items at flea markets or Okinawa's first and only off base charity thrift store. The proceeds from the store go back to the local community in supporting their needs to include the orphanages. Some of our employees that help run our charity thrift store are orphans from the nearby orphanage that we sponsor. They are able to learn necessary business management skills and earn money for college at the same time.
Question: Can I just take the donations myself to the orphanages or shelters?
Answer: We wish the process was that simple; however, after having meetings with the leadership of the various orphanages they have stated to us that when items are donated to them directly that they are thrown away. When asked why, it was stated that they do not have the time, personnel or resources to go through the donations. The law requires at least one adult per six children and the staff is already extremely busy and are unable to sort through the donations.
What about food? The orphanages are unable to take any outside food at this time (cooked or uncooked).
Question: Can I drop off my donations to you directly?
Answer: Absolutely! We are located about 7 minutes from Kadena Gate 2 and can send you a pin directly to our location (or type into Google Maps: HelpOki Community Center). We are open to accept donations everyday (except Tuesday and Thursday).
Question: How do I go about getting involved in volunteering?
Answer: We ask that everyone that is interested in volunteering with us to send us your email address and let us know you want to volunteer with Help Oki. We will then email you a membership volunteer application form (due to the sensitive nature of being around children). Just fill out page one and sign (or type your name on page 2 and send it back to firstname.lastname@example.org. Your application will then be reviewed and once approved you will receive an email back from us. Upon approval, you will be added to our volunteer email distro list about upcoming future events.
If you have more than one family member that would like to volunteer with us we ask that each family member over the age of 18 fill out a separate volunteer application, please.
Question: Is Help Oki recognized by the Japanese government?
Answer: Yes, Help Oki is registered and has a license with the Japanese government to operate here in Okinawa. Help Oki works directly with the local city officials and has also been listed in Okinawa Times, Ryukyu Shimpo, Marine Corps Pacific Newspaper, and numerous other publications.
Question: Where does the food go?
Answer: All food that is donated goes to the homeless shelter on Okinawa and the Okinawa Food Bank. If Help Oki is notified of a family that is in desperate need of food in order to feed a family some of the proceeds Help Oki earns goes to buy food for those families in need. We believe no child should ever have to go to bed hungry.
Question: Is there an age requirement for volunteering?
Answer: What makes Help Oki so unique is that there is NO age requirement for volunteering with us. We actually encourage families to come out and volunteer together. We feel it is so important to instill sense of giving back to the local community as early as possible. When we come together and volunteer together we can change the world.