Hundreds of families will enjoy a traditional Thanksgiving meal this year thanks to the Ironman Foundation.
Volunteers worked hard Monday loading 600 Thanksgiving bundles into a seemingly never-ending line of vehicles containing families needing a turkey dinner with all the fixings ahead of the Thursday’s holiday.
“We’re excited for the turnout,” said Mahea Akau, Ironman World Championship event manager and community relations manager for Kahiau Together, as vehicles passed through the drop zone. “It’s been such a humbling experience for our team.”
Monday’s distribution event was part of the Ironman Foundation’s Kahiau Together initiative created to keep Hawaii Island fed amid the COVID-19 pandemic. The foundation selected the Hawaiian word “kahiau” because it means to give generously or lavishly without the expectation of anything in return — something Hawaii Island has provided the Ironman World Championship annually for more than four decades.
“This community has done so much for Ironman and we’re grateful we have the opportunity to give back,” said Akau.
The foundation, Ironman’s nonprofit arm, has pledged $1 million to provide hunger relief to the island. Since July, nearly 30,000 meals have been served via 11 distribution events focused on furloughed hotel and restaurant workers from Keauhou to South Kohala.
“They made a million-dollar commitment to feed our community and we’re going strong,” Akau said.
Monday’s event was only the third community distribution.
“We wanted to make it special. We wanted to work around Thanksgiving,” said Akau. “We also partnered with Paina by Ocean to make sure that we could procure all the right local ingredients to complement a nice 12-14 pound turkey that can feed a family of eight to 10 people.”
Each of the 600 Thanksgiving bundles distributed Monday contained a turkey weighing at least 12 pounds, 1 pound local sausage mix, 24-ounce loaf of Punaluu sweet bread, one stalk celery, 5 pounds of Russet potatoes, 2 pounds of local sweet potato, one can of cranberry sauce, 7 ounces of local salad mix and a bag of frozen corn.
Heather Rosehill was behind the wheel of one of those vehicles Monday, picking up a box for a high-risk resident of Hualalai Elderly.
“This is really important for her,” said Rosehill. “She needs to feel like part of the community.”
The 43rd running of the Ironman World Championship in Kailua-Kona, which was to be held Oct. 10, was canceled in July due to the pandemic. The grueling triathlon featuring a 2.4-mile swim, 112-mile bike ride and 26.2-mile run is set to return Oct. 9, 2021.