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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Thursday, September 5, 2002

Charity launches 'Day of Caring'

By Jennifer Hiller
Advertiser Education Writer

Workers attacked Ka'imiloa Elementary School 'Ewa Beach yesterday morning armed with paint brushes, cleaning equipment and big hearts.

As part of the Aloha United Way's "Day of Caring," volunteer Jerome Anguay helps tackle graffiti problems at Ka'imiloa Elementary School in 'Ewa Beach. One thousand volunteers worked on 25 O'ahu projects yesterday as the nonprofit group kicked off its fund-raising campaign.

Cory Lum • The Honolulu Advertiser

By the time they had left in the afternoon, a large bridge that the state had never gotten around to painting matched the rest of the school campus and the facade of the administration building sparkled with a material that makes it impossible for graffiti artists to make their mark.

Volunteers from Grace Pacific Corp. spent hours at work at the school as part of Aloha United Way's Day of Caring. They were among 1,000 volunteers who fanned out across O'ahu to work on 25 projects to kick off the United Way's fund-raising campaign.

The nonprofit group hopes to raise $13.2 million by Oct. 11 to pay for health and human service programs for communities on O'ahu.

The Day of Caring projects ranged from landscaping and painting work at public schools to wetland restoration at the Hawai'i Nature Center or packing food for the needy at Hawai'i FoodBank.

Some companies adopt schools or organizations and return to them each year on the Day of Caring. Hawaiian Dredging Construction Company, for example, helped build a road yesterday at the Wai'anae Coast Comprehensive Health Center. It was their ninth year to return to that nonprofit.

Learn about Aloha United Way

For more information on Aloha United Way, visit its Web site or call 536-1951.

At Ka'imiloa Elementary, volunteers painted and applied MicroGuard, a glass-like coating developed by a Florida company to use as a protective coating for space shuttles. It also prevents mold, mildew, corrosion and one of the biggest maintenance problems at any school: graffiti.

"I have this all over my warehouse," said David Takiguchi, manager of GP Maintenance Solutions, a subsidiary of Grace Pacific Corp. "You can write all over the wall with a permanent marker and it won't stay."

School officials wanted to keep the administration building — the entrance to campus and the one place where all visitors and students go — looking nice.

Laura Kodama of Kane'ohe, right, was among the volunteers from Castle & Cooke Homes and State Farm Insurance who lent a hand planting grass and ti at Waipahu Intermediate School yesterday.

Bruce Asato • The Honolulu Advertiser

"In the past we've had problems with graffiti," said vice principal Glen Iwamoto. "This is for prevention. Every time we've got to take a custodian away from what they're doing it takes time and it takes money for the paint."

Aloha United Way President Irving Lauber said the Day of Caring projects help connect people with their communities.

"It connects people up to where their donations are going," Lauber said. "They can see what is happening. I'm glad people think it's a good habit to give to United Way. We'd love to get that understanding, too. This shows the needs in the community."

The fund-raising campaign kicks off at a time when social service needs have increased and the Hawai'i economy is still struggling in the wake of Sept. 11. But Lauber is optimistic the group can meet its $13.2 million goal.

"Last year obviously the needs rose dramatically," Lauber said. "We also received a lot of extra gifts. It helped to meet the extra need from last year. We're hoping people's generosity from last year spills over into this year without another tragedy. I hope that people feel good about what they did. We think that some people who aren't traditional givers gave last year because of Sept. 11. We hope they'll remember that warmly and decide to give again."

AUW raises money through corporate and individual donations, including voluntary employee payroll deductions by participating sponsor companies. Many companies started their own AUW campaigns this summer, but the general community campaign started this week.

Correction: Aloha United Way's phone number is 536-1951. A telephone number with a previous version of this story was wrong.