Generous donors went beyond call
Needy isle families find holiday cheer that comes with the big loads of assistance
Perennial donors came through again this year with amazing generosity in helping the needy through the Community Clearinghouse's Adopt-A-Family program, said the fund drive's director.
Helping Hands Hawaii runs the clearinghouse on Puuhale Road, where items are collected from donors throughout the year. The Star-Bulletin's Good Neighbor Fund collected $15,903 in cash (up about $1,000 over last year's total) and helped publicize the need for donations.
For its Christmas program, more than 100 families and individuals received assistance, said Maria Chomyszak, director of the Christmas drive.
Regular donors included United Airlines employees, who "almost go overboard" in their generosity; and "it's automatic" for Aikahi Elementary Schools to adopt 12 families (one for each grade), Chomyszak said.
The students and teachers do an excellent job, she said: "The gifts are always beautifully wrapped and labeled. What they're trying to do is help their peers."
Castle Medical Center "must have given us 10 beds" for the six families it adopted, Chomyszak said.
Second- and third-graders from the Hongwanji Mission School on Pali Highway adopted a single mom who asked for a crib. They complied and also packed the crib full of food, toys and clothes, she added.
The 65 Airlift Squadron, under the 15th Airlift Wing at Hickam Air Force Base, donated so much to their family that it took three pallets to hold everything, when "normally every family has one pallet of items," she said, adding that they gave everything "from food to laundry detergent to toys -- amazing stuff.
"When the family came to pick it up, the woman was in shock. She kept asking: 'Are you sure this is for me?'" Chomyszak said.
The most requested item is always a bed; then toys and clothes for children; and household items and furniture.
The program gave out 1,650 monthly bus passes because people don't have a car or they can't afford to fill their gas tanks. With the housing crisis and rising gas prices, "the level of need is even greater" as it is every year, she said.
"People are becoming homeless more quickly. ... The most heartbreaking thing is having to turn people away" because they do not qualify for services or "we are limited in what we can give," she said.
"I have mothers crying on the phone. I tell them to find a way to get referred (by an agency) to the Community Clearinghouse," she said.
Many poor people don't know how to complete the necessary paperwork "or figure out the system" to get help. But even when they don't qualify, "I try to help them. We do the best we can," she added.
The Clearinghouse helps 16,000 to 17,000 families and individuals year-round, most of whom fall under the poverty level.
Good Neighbor Fund contributors
|» Helene "Sam" Shenkus
|» Claire and G. Ken Uechi
|» Mililani Ike Cub Scout Bear Den: Evan Babcock, Jacob Kippen, Trey Makishima, Abrien Nelson, Brandon Ridings, Nigel Scott and Adam Vowell
|» David, Sarie, Mari and Amy Hill
|» Deborah Hashimura
||$25 In memory of Asano F. H.
|» Ronica Chang
|» Debra Shiraishi-Pratt
|» Helen Shigemura
||$25 In loving memory of Grandma and Grandpa Ikenaga
|» Sheryl P. Gardner
|» O.L. and C.J.H. Chun
|» Francis Sansone
|» Eunice and Vernon Ching
|» Jolene and Samuel Nakamatsu
|» Russell and Charleen Kato Aina
|» Beverly and Reynold Suenaga
|» Merle and George Moribe
|TOTAL DONATIONS TODAY:
|GRAND TOTAL DONATIONS:
Contributing to the Good Neighbor Fund
The Star-Bulletin's Good Neighbor Fund will take donations until Dec. 31, and will list donor names in the paper until Jan. 11.
Monetary gifts may be sent to: Honolulu Star-Bulletin's Good Neighbor Fund, c/o Helping Hands Hawaii, P.O. Box 17780, Honolulu, Hawaii 96817-0780.
In addition, checks (not cash or gifts) made out to the Good Neighbor Fund can be dropped off at any First Hawaiian Bank branch from Tuesday through Dec. 31.
Clothing, household items and gifts can be donated at the Community Clearinghouse, 2100 Nimitz Highway.
Call 440-3804 for information about the program or to arrange for pickup of large items.
You may also participate in the Adopt-A-Family program, in which businesses, employee groups, social clubs, families or individuals can help a specific family. For information, call 536-7234, ext. 804.