Advertisement - Click to support our sponsors.

Monday, December 25, 2000

‘A miracle
happened’ for the
kids in Waianae

The Salvation Army and
others bring Christmas to
the needy families there

By Leila Fujimori

Nadine Ripley said her nephew, Kekoa, whom she takes cares of, thought he was bad because there weren't any presents under their Christmas tree.

Seven-year-old Kekoa's teacher, Miss Iwasaki, gave them the tree.

"We couldn't afford Christmas," Ripley said. "But a miracle happened."

Kekoa got the Super Soaker plastic water gun he wished for from one of many Santas who donated toys and food items for more than 150 needy Waianae Coast families.

The Salvation Army distributed the items, collected through the Lokahi Tree Holiday Giving Program, Toys for Tots and the Angel Tree Program, at Pokai Bay Beach Park in Waianae.

Shoppers at Pearlridge Center and other locations pulled children's names from Christmas trees and donated toys of $20 or less. But some contributors bought bicycles and skateboards, said Rob Noland, pastor of the Salvation Army's Waianae congregation.

Maria Barnard picked up gifts for her four children and said, "It makes me feel good that when they wake up, they have something to open."

But while other families were receiving gifts, Christine Pi sang hymns and Christmas carols. Pi's application to receive gifts for her two daughters had been lost.

But that didn't dampen her Christmas spirit.

"I told my kids it's okay if they don't get anything because the season is about Jesus," Pi said.

But after all the designated toys were passed out, Pi received two dolls for her two girls.

Waianae Coast residents were not only recipients. They gave, too.

"When they hear that bell, they give with their heart -- with aloha," said Bernadette Hiwauli, a bell ringer for the Salvation Army at Tamura Super Market in Waianae.

Hiwauli attended the 10:30 a.m. service at the beach park, which preceded the gift distribution, saying "it fills your heart."

"The Lord provides and he doesn't let us go without eating," said a woman with 10 kids. She and her husband picked up canned goods and presents for the family. They asked not to be identified.

Laki Pitolo, 21, who was playing with his 3-month-old daughter, Doralina, said he works 40 hours and does overtime as a tree-trimmer.

"I thought it would be easy to find a job in Hawaii, but I was wrong."

The San Jose native said his pay is OK, but not much to support his wife and three children. So he was grateful for the gift of clothes and educational toys for his youngsters.

"The Lord will help us through our struggles," Pitolo said.

Noland hoped that holding the gift distribution for the first time in Waianae would help many residents feel that way and join the congregation.

The Salvation Army pastor, a graphic artist at Punahou School a year ago, answered the call for a pastor in Waianae.

Waianae parishioners would travel to Aiea for services. But in October, Noland pitched a tent at Pokai Bay and began holding services there.

The congregation has grown to 65 from 35. And he's seen people turn their lives around, like George Chong-Tim, a former drug addict.

Chong-Tim was there helping to distribute gifts yesterday.

He cleaned up his life after the Salvation Army donated food for his wife's funeral in January.

After his wife died of cancer, Chong-Tim was left to care for their four children, the youngest being 5. His 16-year-old daughter has been diagnosed with a terminal illness.

But Chong-Tim says the church "has made me the better person that I always wanted to be but couldn't because of the drugs."

Noland says the once-a-year gift giving is good, but his main goal is to change lives. And he's happy that is happening in Waianae.

E-mail to City Desk

Text Site Directory:
[News] [Business] [Features] [Sports] [Editorial] [Do It Electric!]
[Classified Ads] [Search] [Subscribe] [Info] [Letter to Editor]

© 2000 Honolulu Star-Bulletin