Mari Tamashiro

Nicole Kato photo

Nicole Kato photo

Mari Tamashiro knows firsthand how scary leukemia treatments can be. On a visit to Kapiolani Medical Center’s Pediatric Ambulatory Unit (PAU) for her treatment, she realized the treasure chest of toys for the children was empty.

“I felt pretty sad, because children who have leukemia, every time they do something scary (go to treatments), they get a toy,” she explains. “When I saw it was empty, that means the children won’t get a toy.”

In order to fill the chest, Tamashiro, 7, did chores around the house and used the sharing portion of her spoils to buy toys to fill the chest.

At the toy presentation in October of last year, Tamashiro, along with mom Elsa and brother Kai, also brought along more than 20 goodie bags for the kids.

While the treatments may be scary for some children, Tamashiro says she’s gotten used to her weekly visits.

The pokes and prods of needles are often scary for children, and the treasure chest is a way of rewarding their bravery during a difficult time.

Tamashiro ends her two-year-long treatment this year, and the 7-year-old is happy that she could help make her fellow patients at Kapiolani happy.

Tamashiro’s helping hand was part of Montessori Community School’s 40 Acts of Service, which coincides with its 40th anniversary. (She has been attending the school since age 3.)

In fact, her efforts inspired two moms from the school to donate their hair to Locks of Love, according to Elsa.

According to headmaster Patsy Tom, 40 Acts of Service embodies the school’s mission to encourage its students to get involved with the community and the environment.

Over the course of one year (last April to the end of this April), more than 40 “acts of service” were performed by Montessori students to commemorate each year the school has been in operation.

“The idea was to spread the word and to inspire each other to come up with our own ideas of what’s meaningful to us,” Tom explains. “What are the organizations that really touch our hearts?

“It was on so many levels. There were things that teachers organized in the classroom, and there were things that were driven by the children.”

In Mari’s case, her act of service was something meaningful and close to her heart, and along with her schoolmates, she’s made a great impact on her community.

For more information on the 40 Acts of Service project, as well as Mari’s story, visit