Fatherhood Initiative program gives to families again

  • Volunteers Ankea Phem and Vita Zamedyanskiy get gifts ready for children Saturday during the Fatherhood Initiative’s “Christmas with our Keiki” event. (Courtesy photo)

Christmas with our keiki makes holiday magic for 70 low-income kids

Family Support Hawaii’s Fatherhood Initiative believes that every child deserves to experience the magic of Christmas.

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“Christmas with our Keiki” was created to ensure just that.

For the past two years, the event that took place last Saturday brought children from low-income communities together to enjoy a movie, a visit with Santa, dinner and a present.

“Some underprivileged people don’t get gifts under their trees and giving them the privilege of something like what they did here tonight is what Christmas is about in my eyes,” 12-year-old Lani said about the event.

The handful of volunteers who made the event happen included Cara Altamiran, owner of Los Habaneros, who not only provided the food, but served each child.

“The joy and light in the eyes of these children is so much more of a gift to us than anything we could give to them,” she said of the reason she took part.

Seventy children and more than 20 volunteers and parents went to see the movie “Ferdinand,” thanks to a donation of movie tickets from the Hawaii Community Federal Credit Union and a grant from the Rotary Club of Kona.

Everyone from the concession staff to other theater patrons joined in the fun as they witnessed the chaos of herding this many young children from the movie theater to see Santa at the Keauhou Shopping Center courtyard, then back to Los Habaneros for dinner.

Each child received a gift provided by the Kona-Kohala Chamber of Commerce toy drive, everything from dolls to footballs and games.

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“The gifts received from the Chamber go to children who otherwise would have no gifts at all,” said Family Support Hawaii executive director Ray Wofford. “Putting smiles on these children’s faces at Christmas is priceless.”

“The true meaning of Christmas is to spread love and kindness, that’s it,” added Caleb Milliken, director of the Fatherhood Initiative. “I feel so blessed to have been able to do that with these beautiful people.”