For nearly three decades, Bob, Donna and Clint Hansen of Maui Luxury Real Estate LLC have brought Christmas cheer to kids who need it most by holding an annual toy drive for the Friends of the Children’s Justice Center of Maui. If you ask them how many gifts they’ve rounded up over the years, they can only shrug. They haven’t kept track of the total number, but it’s in the thousands.
In the months leading up to the holiday season, the Hansens stockpile toys, gift cards and cash donations. The toy drive kicks into high gear the day after Thanksgiving and typically culminates with a private party in mid-December.
The family had to cancel this year’s celebratory event due to COVID-19, but they’re not letting the pandemic stop their holiday tradition altogether.
The toy drive began on Friday, Nov. 27 and will run through Thursday, Dec. 24. Donors can bring a new, unwrapped gift for a child of any age—infants, toddlers, tweens and teens—or a gift card or check (made out to the Friends of the Children’s Justice Center of Maui) to the Hansens’ Wailea office or schedule a donation pick-up. All of the donated gifts stay in Maui County and will be distributed to children on Maui, Molokai and Lanai.
Hawaii’s Children’s Justice Centers are programs of the Hawaii State Judiciary and were established by the state legislature in 1986 to ensure a fair and neutral process for the handling of reports of child abuse. Today, there are five centers statewide: West Hawaii, East Hawaii, Oahu, Kauai and Maui (the Maui center also serves children living on Molokai and Lanai who are flown in for interviews and medical examinations). Each center is designed to make children feel safe and comfortable while being interviewed about reports of child abuse, particularly sexual abuse, and as witnesses to crimes. On average, the state’s Children’s Justice Centers see approximately 1,000 children every year, and many of them arrive with no more than the clothes on their backs.
That’s where organizations like the Friends of the Children’s Justice Center of Maui step in to help. Like its counterparts on Oahu, Kauai and Hawaii Island, the Friends of the Children’s Justice Center of Maui provides funding for direct services to help children recover from the damaging effects of their abuse and works with community partners to fulfill their needs. Additionally, every holiday season, the nonprofit collects and distributes toys to kids of all ages throughout Maui County—and for many of them, it may be the only gift they will receive.
Simply put, efforts like the Hansens’ annual toy drive make holiday wishes come true. And this year, the need cannot be overstated.
“Due to COVID, the Friends of the Children’s Justice Center’s need for Christmas gifts for the keiki we serve is now greater than ever. None of us could have anticipated the challenges that have occurred to be able to ensure that each and every child receives a gift for the holidays,” said Paul Tonnessen, executive director of the Friends of the Children’s Justice Center of Maui. “Once again, Donna, Bob and Clint Hansen and their ohana came to their rescue. They strategically have figured out a way to overcome these challenges and have brought their Christmas donors together to brighten the holidays for our keiki. Year after year, they continue to show each and every one of us the true meaning of giving. More importantly, they show our keiki that there is a caring and loving community out there for them.”
The Hansens’ office is located at 161 Wailea Ike Pl., Suite A-106 in the Wailea Town Center (next to Matteo’s Osteria) and is open Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., or by appointment. To schedule a pick-up, call 874-8473 or 280-1650.
To learn more about the Friends of the Children’s Justice Center of Maui or to inquire about donor opportunities, visit www.mauicjc.org or call 986-8634.
The Maui News – December 7, 2020