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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Tuesday, March 26, 2002

Legislators to shed shoes in name of public service

By Kevin Dayton
Advertiser Capitol Bureau Chief

A handful of state lawmakers plan to walk barefoot for miles on Good Friday in a series of visits to social service agencies in urban Honolulu.

House Human Services Committee Chairman Dennis Arakaki, D-28th (Kalihi Valley, Kamehameha Heights), said it is the third time lawmakers have undertaken such a trek to draw attention to the needs of the poor, and to make a personal sacrifice of their own.

"We have all these competing needs, and at the same time we're cutting the budget," said Arakaki. "It's kind of incongruous that when the needs are greater, we're actually cutting back."

About a half-dozen lawmakers will start the walk Friday morning by surrendering their shoes at the Hawai'i Foodbank in Mapunapuna, giving the footwear to representatives of the non-profit Prevent Child Abuse Hawai'i. That organization is gathering 5,000 pairs of shoes, one for each case of child abuse reported each year, for a dramatization of the child abuse problem later this year.

"I think it's a humbling experience," Arakaki said of the walk. "Sometimes we forget that we're public servants, and we're there to serve the needs of the people."

Other stops on the journey will include the O'ahu Community Correctional Center, the Institute for Human Services, housing projects for the poor, mentally ill and elderly, Honolulu Hale, the police department, the Shriners Hospital for Children and the juvenile detention center on Alder Street.

At each stop, "you get some water and check your blisters and put on your Band-Aids," said House Majority Leader Marcus Oshiro, who plans to join the walk. The lawmakers will finally rest their sore feet at Central Union Church.

"Unlike small kid times, we're so accustomed to wearing shoes and slippers, we don't have tough feet like we once did," said Oshiro, D-40th (Wahiawa, Whitmore).