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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Sunday, October 29, 2006

500 turn out to make a difference

By William Cole
Advertiser Staff Writer

Dylan O'Connor, 11, left, of Hawai'i Kai, and Bob Isonaga, of Kaimuki, helped to repair the Easter Seals building in Kaimuki yesterday morning.

Photos by REBECCA BREYER | The Honolulu Advertiser

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Marcia Clinton, left, a science teacher at St. Anthony School, and Hayden Windle, 12, a seventh-grader at the school, help clean up the Kawai Nui Stream. Both Clinton and Windle are from Kailua.

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Stacey Bennett, of Kaimuki, foreground, and Travis Knott, of Hawai'i Kai, paint the walls of an Easter Seals facility in Kaimuki.

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There was a dab of white on Kelly Mitchell's cheek and a little on her shirt, but she was doing a pretty good job of staying paint-free as she wielded a paint roller on a 7-foot pole.

"I'm very expert at dripping paint on the floor and not myself," she said as she prepared to tackle the exterior of an Easter Seals facility in Kaimuki.

People good-naturedly got a little messy and put out some sweat yesterday across the state during the national Make a Difference Day.

In 2005, 3 million people cared enough about their communities to volunteer on the day, according to USA Weekend Magazine, which created the annual event.

About 50 people with the Prudential Locations Foundation and Wells Fargo Home Mortgage of Hawai'i applied teal and white paint to two cottages on Harding Avenue that will be used by Easter Seals for young children with disabilities or developmental delays.

"It's so important for us to recognize as a community that we all kind of have to pull together and participate to change the landscape of our community," said Mitchell, 46, of Hawai'i Kai.

Honolulu officials said more than 500 volunteers were helping out with a variety of projects. In Waipahu, volunteers were expected to clean up Kapakahi Stream along Depot Road and work on Pouhala Marsh restoration.

In Nanakuli, a beach cleanup was planned. State, city, Navy and Army and community volunteers were expected to stencil storm drains to "Protect Our Waters," and remove rubbish along sidewalks, curbs and gutters.

"I've always said O'ahu is our home," Mayor Mufi Hannemann said in a statement. "And we are very grateful indeed to these volunteers who are helping to clean up and care for our home. They certainly are making a difference."

In Kaimuki, painting crews added a Cole Academy preschool cottage to the two being painted for the Easter Seals on Harding Avenue.

"We're good neighbors," said John Howell, president and CEO of Easter Seals Hawai'i, who was wearing a considerable amount of paint.

Howell estimated $3,000 in paint was donated for the morning effort, along with $5,000 to $6,000 in labor.

"If we didn't have a volunteer effort, we couldn't get our services done," Howell said. "We just don't receive adequate funding, and it's through volunteer efforts that we keep our programs going."

Mitchell's 11-year-old son, Dylan O'Connor, also was helping paint and caulk.

"I would normally be fishing," he said. He thought painting was "fun," but more importantly, "You can help other people out and make their lives happier."

Reach William Cole at wcole@honoluluadvertiser.com.