Monday, March 04, 2024 |
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Denny’s owner Ali Sahito stands with the Angel Tree on display at the Kona Restaurant. (Laura Ruminski/West Hawaii Today)
The Salvation Army is looking for some community angels to fulfill the Christmas wishes of Kona’s less fortunate residents.
The Salvation Army’s Hawaiian and Pacific Islands Division announced the commencement of its annual Angel Tree program Monday, dedicated to providing Christmas gifts for keiki and kupuna and offering year-round support for families facing economic challenges. Last year, more than 31,000 gifts were donated through the Angel Tree program in Hawaii.
However, the organization said this year, as more and more local families face new economic challenges, the need for public support is greater than ever.
“All children should feel the magic of Christmas during the holidays, and no family should have to choose between paying the bills or paying for meals – especially during the happiest time of the year,” said a Salvation Army spokesperson.
Through The Angel Tree Program, Christmas trees are decorated with paper angel tag ornaments with the first name, age and gender of a keiki or kupuna in need. Donors select one or more tags from the Angel Tree and purchase appropriate gifts for the keiki or senior described on the tags. The gifts are returned to the tree the tags were pulled from.
Ali Sahito, owner of Denny’s in Kona, has an Angel Tree in the entrance to his restaurant and as of Tuesday had already collected 15 to 20 gifts.
“God gave me everything, a beautiful family, and a beautiful island to live on,” he said. “To come from a third world country and own this successful business, I need to do good for our community as a blessing to me.”
Sahito said in addition to supporting the Angel Tree, he and his wife bless 15-20 families anonymously with food and gifts.
“People come to me and tell me about a family in need and we help them,” he said.
Individuals and families can also make monetary donations or create personalized Online Angel Tree fundraisers at AngelTreeHi.org which they may share with their contacts and raise funds for Angel Tree. Also, businesses can create an online Angel Tree Team fundraiser to get their employees involved and the public can donate to participating businesses and fundraisers. Funds raised provide Christmas gifts to keiki and kupuna and provide support for those in need throughout the year.
“During this festive season, our commitment to supporting families in need remains steadfast. The Angel Tree program aims to brighten the holidays for keiki, kupuna and families across Hawaii” stated Charmaine Hauanio-Kuewa, Divisional Director of Development for the Salvation Army Hawaiian and Pacific Islands Division. “Everyone can help to grant a miracle and bring joy to keiki, kupuna and local families in need this season by purchasing a gift or through an online donation. Your support will make a significant difference in spreading love and happiness during this joyous time.”
To support this heartfelt holiday initiative or learn more about our Angel Tree program, visit: hawaii.salvationarmy.org
Angel Tree locations on the Big Island:
HomeStreet Bank in Hilo – through Dec. 15
The Clubin Kona – through Dec. 15
Denny’s in Kona – through Dec. 16
Fish Hopper in Kona — through Dec. 16
Walmart in Hilo – through Dec. 16
Walmart in Kona – through Dec. 18
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