As you can imagine, Santa has a jam-packed schedule this month. But that didn’t keep him from stopping by the Ka Hale A Ke Ola (KHAKO) Homeless Resource Centers Wailuku facility on Wednesday, Dec. 2.
That evening, Realtors Association of Maui (RAM) members teamed up with members of the Kiwanis Club of Kahului to bring holiday magic to kids staying at the shelter. And they did it as safely as possible with a drive-by Christmas parade featuring festive music, gifts, dinner from Mulligans on the Blue—and more smiles than you can count.
“This group not only showed up and delivered—they delivered with love, excitement, song and dance,” said Misty Bannister, KHAKO’s Children’s Services Coordinator. “It really gave the families and our staff moments of pure joy. Our shelter keiki were so excited, laughing and shouting out to Santa. Their faces lit up and their parents were so delighted to see their children happy… and our staff was right there with them to take it all in.”
Several RAM members took part in the very merry motorcade, including Anne Diola of Makai Mortgage, who also serves as the 2020-21 president of the Kiwanis Club of Kahului; Bruce McDonald of Coldwell Banker Island Properties, who is a two-time past president of the Kiwanis Club of Kahului; Debra Merle of Island Sotheby’s International Realty; Brendan O’Colmain of State Farm; and Melissa Salvador of Old Republic Title.
McDonald stood in for the jolly guy in red, Diola, Merle and Salvador served as helper elves, O’Colmain deejayed the event, and dinner was sponsored by Old Republic Title, Pacific Home Loans and American Savings Bank. The group delivered dozens of dinners and colorful gift bags filled with plush stuffed animals donated by the Friends of the Children’s Justice Center of Maui. Families staying at the shelter also received gift cards to shop for other Christmas presents; the gift cards were donated by the Friends of the Children’s Justice Center of Maui and Kiwanis Club of Kahului members.
“It was such a loving and thoughtful event. We are so thankful for them taking the time to make our families, especially the children, feel and see the wonders of Christmas,” Bannister said. “I cannot express enough how valuable their contributions to our families are. This has been a really hard year for everyone… and for our community to go ‘all out’ for our keiki means so much.”
This isn’t the first time RAM has stepped up to support KHAKO. Throughout the year, RAM members sponsor and serve meals at the nonprofit’s two facilities in Lahaina and Wailuku. The Realtor-coordinated dinners began in 1989, and since then, volunteers have prepared and served (and currently deliver, in light of COVID-19) meals on a designated night every month.
Last year, RAM members raised nearly $30,000 to help KHAKO purchase a brand-new playground for its Wailuku facility. And in June, Wishing Well…for Maui Students (a program of the Realtors Association of Maui Community Foundation that provides school supplies and other items to Maui County’s public schools), added KHAKO to its list of beneficiaries.
“RAM truly cares,” Bannister said. “And they continue to share love and compassion through all of the challenges we’ve been going through during this pandemic.”
You can help KHAKO, too. “If anyone wants to get creative with us this Christmas and bring more joy into the lives of our families, keiki and shelter guests, please feel free to call me,” Bannister said. “Let’s see what other magic we can make happen for our families.”
KHAKO is a comprehensive resource center that prepares families and individuals for permanent housing while providing emergency shelter, counseling services, addiction recovery management and adult education and training, as well as a primary care medical clinic and childcare facilities. To inquire about volunteer or donor opportunities this holiday season and beyond, call Bannister at 344-0997.
The Maui News – December 21, 2020