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StarBulletin.com

Holiday project by 'Auntie' puts slippers on the feet of needy keiki


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POSTED: Saturday, November 28, 2009

When Lynn Vasquez-DelaCerna saw kids near her Mayor Wright Housing apartment playing barefoot, she worried that they might get poked by broken glass or thorns.

“;Auntie Pupule,”; as she is called by friends, saw to it that kids who could not afford rubber slippers at Mayor Wright got them for Christmas. Since then the Slippah Wish Project has taken on a life of its own, providing slippers last year to children at all public housing properties on Oahu and to countless charitable agencies, including on the Big Island, Kauai and Maui.

Last year, “;I stopped counting after it reached 5,000-plus slippers,”; Vasquez-DelaCerna said. “;Our goal this year: Whatever comes in, we appreciate.”;

Slipper suppliers who donated the footwear last year all “;wanted to remain anonymous—our secret Santa Clauses,”; she said. “;I pray they come back this year.”;

Vasquez-DelaCerna hand-delivered truckloads of slippers to homeless adults and children living on beaches from Maili to Wahiawa. She was heartbroken by the need she encountered, and wrote about it in her Jan. 5 blog entry at http://www.auntiepupule.com/blog:

“;I remember each person and child. Rain or shine we delivered. Our mission was accomplished because we all wanted to share the magic of Christmas. Time after time, I saw miracles. I also saw the ugliness. I had to use the bathroom on the Leeward Coast. Lucky ting, I no can smell. The lua (restroom) was pilau. Unfit for anyone to use. Tents were plentiful. My heart ached as it did the first time we went out.

“;From Haleiwa, Wahiawa, Leeward Coast, etc., I spoke with many of the homeless—'Auntie, we both working. ... We can't afford the high rents.' The stories were the same. My saddest moment was learning the forgotten keiki who live under a bridge. I couldn't sleep when we had the storm. How could I? Knowing there are children out there in the cold.”;

To donate to the project, use ChipIn on the slippah.org Web site; or write checks payable to Blaine Fergerstrom with the note “;For Lynn's Slippah Project,”; and mail to 1689 Piikea St., Honolulu, HI 96818.

A Christmas Slippah Celebration for Mayor Wright Housing keiki will be held from 7 to 9 p.m. Dec. 21.