Sharing aloha from California -- for isle keiki
LONGS Drug Stores Corp.
hit a $1 million fundraising goal for Make-A-Wish Foundation of America chapters, in states where Longs does business.
The nonprofit foundation fulfills wishes for children with life-threatening illnesses.
The Hawaii chapter grants 40 to 50 wishes a year and has 15 to 20 wishes pending at a time.
The Hawaii share of California-based Longs' donation sent two local kids and their families, to the keikis' dream destination -- Disneyland.
Travel to either Disneyland or Disney World is the top wish expressed by Make-A-Wish dreamers across the country, at 80 percent, said Lyn Brown, executive director of Make-A-Wish Hawaii.
Longs sold Make-A-Wish wristbands and magnetic stars to raise funds.
"They have been very supportive. And employees have enjoyed having the wishes granted in their respective communities," Brown said.
A year ago, the Waianae Longs crew prepared "huge gift baskets, going away baskets of things," for then 4-year-old brain tumor patient Maka Almarza and his family for their trip to the Magic Kingdom.
This fall, the Pali Longs folks treated 8-year-old leukemia patient Kolby Nawatani to a mini-shopping spree the day before he, his parents and siblings were picked up by a limousine for their flight to Disneyland.
Support from companies including City Mill; Foodland Super Market Ltd. and D.R. Horton, Schuler Division has been very important -- "and we would like to increase our corporate donor base," Brown said.
Hawaii's visitor industry, "is a huge donor to our program. We get about $800,000 a year in in-kind donations ... for kids who come here (from elsewhere)."
A trip to Hawaii is the No. 2 requested wish.
Two employees at Make-A-Wish Hawaii coordinate isle trips for seriously ill children and their families "and their salaries are paid for by the chapters (that send children here) so that all the money we raise in Hawaii goes to grant wishes for Hawaii kids," Brown said.
Contributions from military and federal employees through the Combined Federal Campaign, via Aloha United Way's donor's choice option and other residents, also enable Make-A-Wish Hawaii to bring smiles to sick children and respite to their families.
is a reporter with the Star-Bulletin. Call 529-4747, fax 529-4750 or write to Erika Engle, Honolulu Star-Bulletin, 500 Ala Moana Blvd., No. 7-210, Honolulu, HI 96813. She can also be reached at: email@example.com