Editor’s note: Each Wednesday, West Hawaii Today is publishing a story about individuals, groups or organizations that have helped make life better for others in our community during the COVID-19 pandemic.
A collaborative effort between a local real estate office and nonprofit organization supported by generous donations from the community will ensure 65 keiki have gifts to open Christmas morning.
“We were just made aware of the need of keiki in our community, and we wanted to make sure that they had a cheerful holiday and didn’t go without some holiday love,” said Kamalani Duerksen, broker in charge of the Keauhou Office of Coldwell Banker.
The Giving Tree got underway in early December when local real estate agent Keala Wall came up with an idea to collaborate with her daughter, local social worker, Anuhea Wall, and partner Coldwell Banker’s Keauhou office with a nonprofit community organization to shepherd the collection of gifts for keiki and families in need.
Each of the 65 children, ranging in age from six months to nearing the end of high school, provided three Christmas wishes on an anonymous tag that was hung on the office’s ornately decorated Christmas tree. Wishes ranged from the basics, like clothing and shoes, all the way to a PlayStation 5 and a laptop computer.
By the Dec. 16 collection deadline, gifts provided by the community and Coldwell Banker ohana spilled out from under the tree. On Friday morning, the colorfully wrapped presents covered much of the Keauhou Shopping Center office when elves from the community organization arrived with their “sleigh” to transport the gifts.
In addition, thanks to cash donations, each of the 28 families will receive a $50 gift card for groceries.
“We realize that yes, these are important wishes for kids to have gifts under the tree, but in addition to that we know that there’s a need for families because having a nice meal isn’t always easy to put together on a tight budget,” said Duerksen. “So, hopefully, having some funds to put something together will help.”
The Keauhou Office of Coldwell Banker plans to continue the Giving Tree next Christmas and is also looking into other community support efforts, such as holding a back-to-school drive.
“This is just the start,” Duerksen said.
Know a Hometown Hero who should be highlighted next Wednesday? It can be anybody, from a youngster doing good for the community, to a professional helping with the COVID-19 pandemic, or even a kupuna! Please send your nominations to email@example.com with the subject: Hometown Heroes Nomination. Please include the hero’s name, contact information and what makes them a hero.