History


  • 2003

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    Helene J. Uchida teaches English to oncologists at Kyushu Cancer Center and becomes interested in teaching English to children as a volunteer after hearing one student, a pediatric oncologist, talk about his young patients.

  • 2004


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    Uchida starts teaching English in the pediatric ward of Kyushu Cancer Center and christens her activity “The Sunshine Club”  because she wants to bring sunshine to the children and help them forget that they are sick during her visits. In December, she initiates a Christmas visit with Santa and presents.

     

  • 2005

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    Volunteer English teaching activities continue, and upon hearing of Uchida’s project, generous America companies(Hero Arts, Carson Dellosa and Scholastic) begin sending Christmas presents for the children. Uchida, Santa and his helpers visit the Kyushu Cancer Center Christmas bearing their gifts and entertainment.

  • 2006


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    As word gets out, more companies donate presents for Christmas (Costco Japan, TOMY, Benetton, Oxford University Press, Pearson Education, RIC Publications and Iwasaki Shoten). Uchida solicits help from her university students, neighbors and Little America mothers to help sort and wrap presents. Santa and three helpers hand out gifts to each and every child at Kyushu Cancer Center.

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    Uchida’s Daily Yomiuri “Primary Advice” column describes the pleasure or teaching English at Kyushu Cancer Center and ignites interest in many readers nationwide.

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  • 2007


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    Other volunteers are recruited to help share the teaching English load, and Japanese volunteers join to do picture book reading. Again, volunteers gather to sort and wrap presents. Christmas donations increase to include presents from MacMillan Language House and Mattel. Because of this increase, The Sunshine Club is able to make a Christmas visit to the pediatric ward of Kyushu University Hospital.

  • 2008

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    In September, Helene J. Uchida is awarded a Certificate of Appreciation for her six years of volunteer work from Dr. Takeshi Okamura, the Director of Kyushu Cancer Center.

  • 2009


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    The president of Costco Japan, Ken Theriault, donates 500,000 yen to Kyushu Cancer Center in support of the children’s spring camp project. Compass Publishing, Book Smart and UNIQLO join our expanding list of gift-donors for the Christmas visits.

  • 2010

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    The Sunshine Club expands its English classes program to Kyudai Hospital with the help of Kyushu University’s international graduate students and both Japanese and non Japanese in the community. The Sunshine Club meets with the president of Children’s Hospital and agrees to visit the children with Santa in December and starts teaching English to elementary, junior high and high school students there.

  • 2011


    be_a_volunteer01.JPGAnn Umeda from Sri Lanka and Kazi Kamryul Islam from Bangladesh join our Sunshine Club volunteer team and are warmly welcomed by the children at Kyudai Hospital. Duncan Stephenson brings happiness to young patients at Children’s Hospital.

    The Sunshine Club produces a bilingual brochure to introduce its activities and solicit donations from the international and Japanese community. Super-Duper Publications from America sends Christmas presents airmail for the children!

    Santa’s visits now include : Kyushu Cancer Center, Kyudai Hospital, Children’s Hospital and Fukudai Hospital. The Sunshine Club has become a catalyst in creating support for children in hospitals in Fukuoka. Uchida tries to encourage TEMI teachers to do the same in their communities nationwide.

  • 2012

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    The Sunshine Club welcomed three wonderful, new volunteers at Kyudai Hospital: Diane Rimmer from Australia, Alonzo Williams from the United States and Yuko Watanabe from Fukuoka. All three have proven to be popular with the children.

  • 2013


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    This Christmas, with our quest to reach out and bring happiness to more people, we added another hospital and two retirement homes to Santa’s Christmas route. So in total, Santa and his helpers brought Christmas cheer to : Kyushu Cancer Center, Fukuoka University Hospital, Children’s Hospital, Fukuoka Hospital, Aburayama Tsubakien Retirement Home and Amkuraju Ohashi Minami Retirement Home.

  • 2014

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    A HUGE thank you to all our loyal volunteers and sponsors. A special thank you to Grand Hyatt Fukuoka, Nikko Hotel Fukuoka, Hilton Fukuoka Sea Hawk and ANA Crown Plaza Fukuoka for their generous dining coupons for our Santas and Sunshine Club Volunteer teachers. 2014 was a good year thanks to many wonderful people.

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  • 2015


    Image2013.jpegThe happiest day of the year is the Saturday in December when our dedicated Sunshine Club team visits the hospitals bearing gifts for everyone. Thank you to our sponsors for their generous donations, to our gift-wrapping team who sort and wrap over 500 presents, to our volunteers who teach English to the children year-round and to our gorgeous Santas: Chris Flynn (Australia), David Victor & Todd Leonard (both USA) and our precious Santa Helpers: Helene de Groote, Yoko Sato, Ann Umeda.

  • 2016

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    Ann Umeda receives a certificate of appreciation for her 10 years of volunteer work at Kyudai.
    Thank you to Ayano Hara for joining is in 2016 and helping us coordinate the Sunshine Club. With the support of our wonderful sponsors, we were able to visit the hospitals with our sweet Santas and volunteers. Please contact Ayano if you would like to initiate a Sunshine Club in your area or help us in any way.