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The Honolulu Advertiser

Posted on: Saturday, December 25, 2004

Christmas Fund tops $91,000

By Karen Blakeman
Advertiser Staff Writer

Thank you!

You know who you are: you're Hawai'i residents looking after your neighbors and you're business people who care about your community. You're sailors aboard ships and Mainlanders who think of Hawai'i as your home away from home. You're military men and women and their families, and a few of you are mailing your checks in from Iraq or Afghanistan.

You're the readers of The Honolulu Advertiser, and you have worked hard this year to make sure those families who needed a little help for the holidays got it.

Mahalo. The need is great, and it will continue well beyond the holiday season.

As of today, The Honolulu Advertiser Christmas Fund has reached more than $91,000, up from $66,000 raised by Christmas Day in 2003. A total of $147,000 was raised by the end of the 2003 Christmas Fund drive.

Donations will continue to be accepted for the 2004 Advertiser Christmas Fund.

Our anonymous Santa once again is matching the first $25 of each donation to the Christmas Fund through the end of the month.

How to help

To donate, send checks payable to "The Advertiser Christmas Fund" to Helping Hands Hawai'i, P.O. Box 17780, Honolulu, HI 96817.

Monetary donations also may be dropped off at any First Hawaiian Bank branch.

Goods can be donated at the Community Clearinghouse at 2100 N. Nimitz Highway, near Pu'uhale Road. For details, call 440-3804.

Readers also have been generous with more than their wallets.

Those hard-working Christmas elves at the Community Clearinghouse have been busily unloading and loading furniture, clothes, bikes, toys and other goods that readers have donated. They are very pleased with this year's haul.

"We got a lot of big-ticket items," said Capsun Poe, project manager for the fund. "Refrigerators, stoves — usually we'd love to get those but don't."

At times, Poe said, the perfect item came in the door just before the family who needed it arrived to pick up their goods. For a low-income family, the gift of a bed can seem like the granting of an impossible luxury.

Holly Holowach is project manager at Weinberg Village Waimanalo, a program that offers temporary housing for families that lost their homes and — in most cases — everything in them. Several of those families were featured in Advertiser Christmas Fund stories this year.

Her program, like the other temporary shelters across the state, is at capacity with a waiting list. New applications arrive every day, she said.

"It's reaching crisis state," she said. "I got a call from a guy yesterday who is homeless and his wife is due in January, but there is no room. We don't even have a barn to offer them."

The families in Weinberg Village and in other temporary shelters are grandparents raising grandchildren in a rental market that decimates retirement incomes, she said. They are young parents without resources. They're working people laid low by catastrophic medical problems and single parents who have lost their jobs. Some have physical disabilities. Some have mental illnesses and some have been brought down by addiction.

"They're people," Holowach said. "They're our extended 'ohana."

Having beds to sleep in, stoves to cook on, clothing for their children and gift certificates to buy shampoo and toothpaste and soap helps them to remember their lives are worth living.

"The Christmas Fund helps our families so much," Holowach said. "You should see their eyes light up. Just knowing someone else cares almost overwhelms them."

The service providers, Holowach said, also enjoy the day the Christmas Fund gifts arrive. Faced with so much sadness during the holiday season and throughout the year, it makes them happy to see their clients get much-needed presents.

Poe said he sees that part each year when overworked caseworkers rush into the Community Clearinghouse loaded with paper, ribbon and tape and begin frantically wrapping their clients' gifts for that special delivery.

"They like playing Santa Claus," he said.

Christmas Fund donations will be used for families who need help making it through the holidays. Any money remaining after the holidays will be used to help those in need throughout the year. For information on how to donate, see the "How to Help" box.

Recent donations:

  • Bob & Bea $100
  • Shelli, Randall & Laura Ching $100
  • Taylor, William & Amber $100
  • New Hope Hawaii Kai Soda Can Ministry $100
  • Toshiko & Richard Fukuda $100
  • Mary Graff $100
  • In memory of Anna Mahoe $100
  • In memory of Chick $100
  • In memory of Daniel & Mary O'Reilly and Tom & Esther Wright $100
  • In memory of Jesus Christ, from Russell & Debbie Pang $100
  • In memory of Wendy L. Allen $100
  • Thomas F. & Janet Malone $100
  • Reyna, Jessica & Caitlin Nishimura $100
  • Kristine Pagan $100
  • Heather E. Seal $100
  • The Ka Pa Nani Malamalama O Lilinoe students $70
  • J301/Grade 8 English Kawananakoa Middle School $55
  • Robert J. & Marilyn Bell $50
  • In memory of Beryl Jen $50
  • In memory of Doreen Kobayashi $50
  • In memory of Herbert H. Hee $50
  • In memory of Reynold Leong $50
  • In memory of Yuriko Kadekaru $50
  • Stephen P. & Patricia M. Ricci $50
  • In memory of Charles & June Hare $40
  • Joan McClain & Harry L. Callahan $25
  • Mark M. Chuakay $25
  • Jenna A.U. Oley $25
  • In memory of Caesar & Crystal $25
  • In memory of Nathan Walsh $25
  • In memory of Raymond and Nancy Hirayasu $25
  • In memory of Thomasine Au Kelley $25
  • In memory of Jean Nishimura $25
  • In memory of Rusty Kawamura $25
  • In memory of Thomas Ichiro Nishiguchi $25
  • In memory of Winona (Siu) Leong $25
  • JJ $25
  • In memory of HakSoon and James Mercado and Rene Catalan $25
  • On behalf of Shades & Things $25
  • Raymond F. & Genevieve B. Rosa $25
  • Beverly H. Shelley $25
  • Douglas T. & Judith D. Takaba $25
  • George B. Drummond $20
  • Elsa Ann Souza $10
  • Anonymous $100
  • Anonymous $100
  • Anonymous $50
  • Anonymous $25
  • Anonymous $25
  • Anonymous $25
  • Anonymous $25
  • Anonymous $25
  • Anonymous $20

Total: $2,865

Previous total: $88,171.76

Total to date: $91,036.76