Saturday, October 27, 2001

Remember 9-11-01

‘Make a Difference Day’
does exactly that

By Pat Gee

Meg Gammon has seen "a huge difference" in the Kalaheo High School's appearance and students' pride since they began participating in "Make a Difference Day" in 1997.

For the fifth year in a row, parents, teachers and students of Kalaheo will undertake a major improvement project today, "Make a Difference Day," along with millions of others involved in community service events throughout the nation.

Gammon, parent facilitator at Kalaheo High School, said the school has saved $300,000 of its budget in the last four years by undertaking the service project.

"There's more school spirit and pride; there is way less trash on campus," she said. Kalaheo was one of two Hawaii state winners the first time it participated in "Make a Difference Day" in 1997.

The Marine Corps donated $8,000 to finance the painting, landscaping and installation of a sprinkler system on the 20-acre campus, probably because 20 percent of the kids who attend the school come from military families, she said.

Some 60 soldiers of Bravo Company of the 65th Engineer Battalion at Schofield Army Barracks have volunteered to paint homes for the developmentally disabled at Opportunities for the Retarded Inc.-Helemano Village.

Capt. Jason Williams, who commands Bravo Company, said his men were very eager to volunteer their free time, partly for old-times sake. In 1980, the 65th Battalion helped clear and level the 10-acre property where nine homes and the Helemano training center provide services to the residents. Also, many of ORI's residents work as mess attendants at different military sites, including the 2nd Brigade Dining Facility at Schofield. Williams said they thought it would be a good opportunity to "turn around and support them because every day they support us."

Paulette Lee, special events coordinator of ORI, said , "We really feel honored that they want to come and paint ... and they're supportive of people with disabilities. It really touches us that we can see the ohana (family) spirit in the military."

Make a Difference Day, now its 11th year, was inspired by USA Weekend Magazine.

Morwenna Tapuala, VISTA (Volunteers in Service to America) coordinator at Kuhio Elementary School, got her school involved in Make a Difference Day for the first time this year. She organized a car wash from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. today near the library to raise money to resurface the playground because students get dirty and get dust in their eyes.

But Tapuala also wanted the students to participate because "it is especially important that we as Americans stand together to help make our country a better place" since the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. Kuhio will donate 10 percent of the car wash earnings to the Sept. 11 Disaster Fund.

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