If a trip to the Maui Swap Meet isn’t on your to-do list today, you may want to add it now.
From 7 a.m. to 1 p.m., Maui Girlz Shave Ice will be serving up something extra special: 100 percent of today’s shave ice sales will be donated to the Maui Food Bank’s Aloha BackPack Buddies program, which provides healthy weekend meals to elementary school children from food-insecure homes throughout the academic year. And if you stop by the cart, you’ll be greeted by two friendly faces: Lisa Griffiths of Pacific Island Realty, LLC, and her daughter, Jessica, a senior at Seabury Hall.
When Jessica was 9, she and her older sister, Christiana, co-founded Maui Girlz Shave Ice. With the help of their parents, entrepreneurial-minded siblings built a shave ice cart and started selling the sweet treats at the Maui Swap Meet on Saturdays to help pay for their private school tuition. “While I started this business venture to make money for things I needed, the most important thing our business has led us to is a way to help others,” Jessica explained.
Six years ago, Jessica became aware of a distressing reality. “I read an article in a magazine about children going hungry,” she said. “I had never before been aware that there are children out there who do not have enough food. It was a horrifying revelation for me. I was used to going to the grocery store and picking out snacks and food I wanted to eat…it was something that I took for granted.”
Jessica shared her concerns with Lisa, who helped her come up with a plan. Since then, the family has donated shave ice sales to the Maui Food Bank and the Aloha BackPack Buddies Bocce Ball Fundraising Tournament, which takes place today at Mulligans on the Blue in Wailea. Now in its eighth year, the annual tournament benefits the Maui Food Bank’s Aloha BackPack Buddies program, which provides prefilled backpacks to students who are on their school’s free and reduced meal program (the backpacks contain six meals they can take home with them on Friday afternoons). Since its inception in 2012, the Aloha BackPack Buddies program has received support from a number of Realtors Association of Maui (RAM) members—both on and off the bocce ball field.
Lisa is one of those RAM members. She’s worked alongside her daughter at every Maui Girlz Shave Ice fundraiser for the Maui Food Bank (and other worthy causes, too). Apart from the satisfaction of knowing she’s helping combat childhood hunger in her community, Lisa says she also relishes the opportunity to see her daughter give back. “I am so proud that she considers other people’s needs and wants to make a difference,” she said. “She is trying to be a responsible citizen of the world and to help others who cannot help themselves.”
If you miss the mother-daughter duo at the Maui Girlz Shave Ice cart today, Jessica encourages you to consider supporting the Aloha BackPack Buddies program in other ways throughout the year. “Your coffee money for just one day out of the week can make the huge difference in feeding a child,” she said. “Nothing is ever too small. We can all join together to ensure the children of Hawaii don’t go hungry.”
Lisa agrees wholeheartedly. “It is the most amazing program,” she said. “We are helping the children in our neighborhoods—those children that go to school with our own children. It is a privilege to help them in some small way.”
The Maui Girlz Shave Ice booth is at the Maui Swap Meet at UH-Maui College on Saturdays from 7 a.m. to 1 p.m. Every month, the Maui Food Bank serves 10,000 food-insecure people countywide, including the rural communities of Hana, Molokai and Lanai. Through its network of partner agencies and programs, the nonprofit collects and distributes food to anyone who is at risk of going hungry. For more information about the Maui Food Bank or the Aloha BackPack Buddies program, call 243-9500 or visit www.mauifoodbank.org.
By Sarah Ruppenthal
The Maui News – March 16, 2019