Yongsan spouses thanked for their fund-raising work
January 13, 2005
YONGSAN GARRISON, South Korea — Whenever Gloria Abramowitz sees someone at the Chosun Gift Shop trying to decide between two gifts, she can’t help but encourage them to buy both.
“I try to tell people, ‘It all goes to charity,’” Abramowitz said Tuesday, shortly after South Korea’s defense minister offered his thanks to her and the other spouses who help run the gift shop on South Post.
Yoon Kwang-woong, with his wife Kwon Young-ki, stopped by the shop for a few minutes to thank the American Forces Spouses Club for the money it has raised since opening 39 years ago.
“I hope this ceremony marks the developing relationship between our two countries,” Yoon told about a dozen club board members after presenting the group with a plaque and certificate.
Every year, the store has donated its profits — an estimated $3 million in the past two decades — to American and South Korean charities, said Judy LaPorte, a club member and wife of U.S. Forces Korea commander Gen. Leon J. LaPorte.
The furniture, jewelry, robes, embroidery and dishes sold at Chosun come from Asian countries outside of South Korea, LaPorte said, to sidestep competing with South Korean merchants off-base.
Any profits are split evenly between South Korean and American charities. In past years, that money has gone to college scholarships, orphanages, nursing homes, Boy and Girl Scouts clubs and medical clinics, LaPorte said.
In the past, the spouses club has run the store with volunteers. This year, however, the gift shop expanded its inventory and added 10 part-time staffers to manage the extra business, she said.
It’s good news, Abramowitz said: “With more merchandise, we’re making more money and that means we’ll be able to contribute more.”