While many of us were picking out long-stemmed roses and heart-shaped candy boxes the weekend before Valentine’s Day, Tania Harmon was keeping tabs on hundreds of items up for bid at Hale Kau Kau’s aptly themed “Sharing the Love” fundraising dinner and auction at the Wailea Beach Resort on Saturday, Feb. 9.

As the event’s silent auction chairperson, Harmon, a Realtor-Salesperson with Wailea Realty Corp. a Boutique of Windermere Real Estate, oversaw the curation of 330 auction items—everything from artwork to jewelry to designer handbags to gift baskets.

Harmon has been a longtime supporter of Hale Kau Kau, but took a more active role when she stepped up to help with the annual fundraiser two years ago. “We have been donating financially and donating food for the Hale Kau Kau pantry for years. I had always assumed that since I worked during the day, when the meals are prepped and served, that I could not volunteer,” she said. “Last year, Dr. Mary Trotto [chairperson of Hale Kau Kau’s fundraising committee] reached out for help in getting donations for the silent auction—something that was right up my alley, since I have assisted with and managed several silent auctions for other organizations. One thing led to another and Dr. Mary asked me to join the benefit dinner planning committee and run the silent auction.”

Hale Kau Kau (“House of Meals”) works to alleviate hunger by providing nutritious meals to South Maui’s hungry and homebound. Founded in 1991 and headquartered at St. Theresa’s Church in Kihei, the nonprofit organization serves free dinners unconditionally to anyone who comes to the kitchen at meal time—rain or shine, 365 days a year. Hale Kau Kau also delivers meals to more than 90 homebound residents throughout South Maui.

The need for Hale Kau Kau cannot be overstated. Since its inception 27 years ago, the organization has served and delivered more than 1.5 million meals to individuals and families in need. “For many of these people, this is the only meal they will get all day…and it is the only person they will talk to all day,” Harmon said. “It is truly a labor of love and compassion, which is why our motto is ‘Feeding with Compassion and Aloha.’”

2019 marked the 20th annual dinner and auction for Hale Kau Kau; the money raised will provide approximately 40 percent of the nonprofit’s annual budget. At this year’s event, more than 350 attendees, including Mayor Mike Victorino, South and West Maui Sen. Roz Baker and several Realtors Association of Maui (RAM) members, enjoyed dinner, live music and entertainment, and a live and silent auction. If you missed it, Harmon encourages you to consider attending next year—or you could lend a helping hand. “We welcome anyone who would like to volunteer to help with next year’s dinner—planning, graphic design, photography, helping the night of the event or helping us solicit and collect donations for our silent and live auctions,” she said. “We are always looking for help and talent. “

And you can support Hale Kau Kau throughout the year, too. “You don’t have to commit to volunteering every day, or even every week,” Harmon said. “If you only have a couple of hours every once in a while, we’ll take it—many hands make light work. It will be the most rewarding experience.” Apart from serving or delivering meals, volunteers can help out in the kitchen, provide clerical support or perform other tasks. “It takes a lot of money and a lot of volunteers to make it all happen,” Harmon said. “Financial donations are always welcome.” And donations go a long way: A $100 contribution to Hale Kau Kau can cover roughly 200 meals for people in need.

The organization also accepts food donations. “Non-perishable items are best,” Harmon said. “Any packaged foods must be unopened and unused, and any cooked food needs to have been prepared in a commercial kitchen. If you don’t have access to a commercial kitchen, but you’re dying to donate some of your Tutu’s famous homemade banana bread, you can come cook it in the Hale Kau Kau kitchen—just call and ask.”

For more information about Hale Kau Kau or to learn about donor or volunteer opportunities, visit www.halekaukau.org, email halekaukau@rcchawaii.org or call 875-8754.

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