Last week we were honored—and tickled—to receive these coins in the mail. They are from Samantha Hirasaki, 5. Her mother was writing a birthday check to family friend Dr. Timothy Choy, to go toward the Friends of Dr. Timothy Choy Fund for Artists of Hawai‘i. Samantha saw what she was doing and wanted to contribute, too, and offered up her life savings of 94 cents. Boy, do we appreciate it Samantha! Every penny counts.

Accompanying the money was a letter from Dr. Choy reading: “Enclosed is $.94 that is a birthday gift in my honor to be applied to the Friends of Dr. Timothy Choy Fund for Artists of Hawai‘i acquisition from Sammie Hirasaki. Thank you for your assistance in this matter.”

Our director of development, Jessica Welch, has prepared an official donor thank you letter for Samantha. The youngster has just taken her first step in philanthropy, and when she opens that envelope and her mommy reads her that letter, she’ll feel that warm glow you get from knowing you’ve helped your community.

Dr. Choy knows that feeling. As a longtime supporter of the museum and one-time staff member, he is part of the museum ‘ohana. He has dedicated much of his life to fulfilling his family’s tradition of giving back to the community and being a steward of the arts. Dr. Choy returned to Honolulu after 30 years as a professor of communications at the State University of Minnesota at Moorhead. Back in the islands, he joined the museum’s staff as special projects assistant to then-director George Ellis in 1999, playing a critical role in fundraising campaigns. But his history with the museum goes back further than that. He remembers his aunt Stella Lee bringing him to events at the museum, and was especially captivated by the Kress Collection of European Old Masters when he was about seven years old. That early encounter started his lifelong passion for the arts, and his collecting habit. He began collecting works on paper, then added antique jade. Over the years, he has made numerous gifts from his jade collection to the museum.

A great supporter of the local art scene, Dr. Choy established the Friends of Dr. Timothy Choy Fund for the museum’s juried biannual exhibition Artists of Hawai‘i.  It is a great way for former students and friends to honor him and support the museum and local artists. At each Artists of Hawai‘i (the next one will be held in 2015), the museum director and curators make recommendations for works of art to be purchased using the Friends of Dr. Timothy Choy Fund. Dr. Choy than makes the final choices.

He explained to Samantha that her gift would help artists in Hawai‘i. We thank Dr. Choy for his generosity to the arts, and for helping to pass the torch of giving to next generations.

Dr. Timothy Choy at Kama‘aina Christmas: Cool Yule 2013.

Dr. Timothy Choy at Kama‘aina Christmas: Cool Yule 2013.