Kokua Line
June Watanabe

Toys accepted
to help grieving kids

Question: I would like to donate a variety of Beanie Babies to a charity or organization. Any suggestions on who might enjoy these cute animals?

Answer: The Outreach for Grieving Youth Alliance accepts stuffed animals, toys, arts and crafts supplies, as well as monetary donations.

The nonprofit organization, based on Oahu, provides peer support groups for children who have lost parents and their families, explained Cynthia White, its executive director.

The children are divided into two groups -- ages 3 to 12 and 13 to 19. A third support group is for adults -- surviving parents, caregivers or other family members.

Meetings are held for two hours, twice a month, "borrowing space" at Calvary Church of the Pacific in Aiea and the Queen Liliuokalani Center for Children in Kaneohe, White said.

The organization provides dinner, then has group meetings "which addresses the impact of (the chil- dren's) loss," she said. It's talk-story time, allowing children to express their grief and giving them a way to engage in positive activities to remember their loved ones, she said.

Arts and crafts activities, stuffed animals and other toys are used in the process.

There are now 60 children participating in the free program.

The average duration of participation is 12 months, White said, although some children have been involved since the organization started in October 2001.

"It's child-directed," she explained. "Children choose to participate, then choose how long they want to participate."

The local organization is not affiliated with any national group, although it is based on the Dougy Center, the National Center for Grieving Children, based in Portland, Ore., where White was the training director for seven years before moving to Honolulu in 2000.

There are more than 150 programs nationally and internationally that use the Dougy Center model in working with grieving children, White said.

Volunteers receive 30 hours of training before working with the children, she said. The ratio is one adult to two or three children.

The Outreach would like to expand -- reaching out to foster children, for example -- but is limited by income. There already is a waiting list of children wanting to participate.

"We always need money," White said, so fund raising is "ongoing."

The major fund-raiser -- Hearts of Hawaii Unite -- will be held Oct. 19 at the BluWater Grill in Hawaii Kai.

For more information, call 735-2989 or visit the organization's Web site at www.grievingyouth.org/thealliance.htm .


To whomever organized the display of small American flags at nearly every home along Kahala and Kealaolu avenues for the July Fourth weekend and beyond. It has been a pleasure to drive down those streets and see those beautiful flags waving. -- Proud American


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