HILO — A letter to Santa Claus from 6-year-old Xaymien Kela of Hilo received a heartwarming response from local businesses and health care workers.
The Chiefess Kapiolani Elementary School student told Santa his wishes included “take Grandma’s cancer away, a new bed for us, snorkeling gear for a kid.”
He sent his letter to Santa at the Hilo 7-Eleven store on Kawili Street, according to Camille Wong, 7-Eleven Hawaii digital media coordinator. The store participates in a 2-year-old program designed to bring cheer to kids and their families during the holidays.
Xaymien’s letter was chosen from 478 received by 7-Eleven stores statewide.
On Wednesday, Xaymien and his grandmother, Jacqueline Goldstein, smiled, laughed, hugged and reacted with surprise and delight as Xaymien opened a package containing snorkel gear, marveled at a soft dinosaur pillow-chair that’s just his size, saw a bundle of books to be opened later, got a “lantern of hope” and a flash-card game designed to be a fun way to learn math.
“Thank you, thank you, thank you, thank you,” Xaymien shouted. “Yay! I love everything!”
Staff from the convenience stores, the Hilo Medical Center Foundation and other involved groups cheered Xaymien on as he opened the gifts.
“The compassion and care you showed for Grandma really shined through in your letter to Santa,” Wong told him.
His first wish, helping his grandmother, is one of the most important priorities in his life.
“He’s a good boy, you know” Goldstein said. “He does a lot for me — sometimes he thinks not enough — but he does a lot.”
Xaymien cleans, cooks with the microwave, helps to take care of his grandmother and consistently checks how she is feeling.
“He really takes care of her and looks out for her,” said Lisa Rantz, executive director of the Hilo Medical Center Foundation, where the gifts were stored.
Goldstein was treated for colon cancer at Hilo’s Hawaii Pacific Oncology Center, a Hilo Medical Center facility. After surgery and treatment, she now gets regular checkups to make sure the cancer didn’t spread. She recommends getting a colonoscopy because that’s how her cancer was discovered.
“They caught it, I think, in time,” she said.
Xaymien and his grandmother have been sleeping on an aging bed together. Not only did they get a new one, they got two brand-new twin beds — so each can sleep separately and comfortably.
“They’ll get to have a good night’s sleep,” said Daryl Fujimoto, sales manager at HomeWorld Furniture.
Fujimoto said the bed donation is part of “the community helping out the community.”
“I kind of felt, if my kids needed help, somebody would help them,” he said.
Sheets and warm comforters that fit the beds also were donated.
Goldstein and Xaymien visited the Oncology Center so officials could announce that, in addition to gifts for the family from the foundation and HomeWorld, a $500 donation is being made by 7-Eleven — in their name — to the cancer center.
Oncology Center workers streamed out to the entryway, giving Goldstein multiple hugs of aloha, as if she were a member of their own families.
And, within seconds, workers began stooping to Xaymien’s level and having conversations with him.
“She looks good — real good,” one of the Oncology Center workers said as Goldstein appeared.
Some staffers cried as they heard Xaymien’s Christmas wish for his grandma — one they deeply share for each of their patients.
Participants walked away feeling fulfilled and appreciative. As did Xaymien and his grandmother.
“Merry Christmas everybody,” she said.
Email Jeff Hansel at firstname.lastname@example.org.