Meeting the Need

  • Brian Cornel, left, hands Tommy Kahikina Ching a bag of rice for the 19th annual Food Basket Feed-A-Thon Thursday at the Keauhou KTA. (Photos by Laura Ruminski/West Hawaii Today)

  • Dody Underwood, left, hands a donation to Sarah Hamakawa for the Food Basket’s 19th annual Feed-A-Thon, held at the Keauhou KTA on Thursday.

KEAUHOU — “We’re killing it!” exclaimed Tommy Kahikina Ching, referring to islandwide community support for the 19th annual Feed-A-Thon for The Food Basket Thursday at the KTA Super Stores location in Keauhou.

Ching’s quest for donations spanned KTA locations in Kona, Waikoloa, Waimea, Hilo, Puainako and Keauhou.

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As of Thursday afternoon, $19,400 had been raised for the island’s lone food bank.

With only $600 to go, a $20,000 matching donation will be made by the “hunger angel” — an anonymous donor.

That translates into 120,000 pounds of food.

Ching said the community came together more than ever this year with local businesses donating goods and services for the silent auction.

Ace Hardware donated thousands of dollars worth of merchandise to incentivize the community to make cash donations and receive items at deeply discounted prices.

“With the money we receive, we can buy what we need from KTA at wholesale prices,” said Ching.

He noted that shelves at The Food Basket were empty after a year that saw Hurricane Lane, Puna Relief amid the 2018 Kilauea eruption and most recently the federal government shutdown create record-breaking distribution of food.

Food Basket executive director Kristin Frost Albrect was part of the relief effort last month for government workers at Kona International Airport.

“To come and be a recipient was hard for them,” said Albrect.

Now back to work, she saw the same faces donating back to the organization that helped them get through hard times.

“I never cried so much. It was a beautiful full circle,” Albrect said.

Ching is confident they will set a new record this year. Ching challenges Kona businesses to match what Ace Hardware and other local businesses have already done to support their effort.

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The 10-day island tour wraps up today at 6 p.m. at KTA Super Stores in the Keauhou Shopping Center. Volunteers are encouraged to come down and join the effort to feed the hungry on our island.

To donate online, visit hawaiifoodbasket.org.

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