Another wish has been granted for Maui County’s students.

On the rain-soaked morning of Saturday, Feb. 23, a team of volunteers arrived at the Brown and Caldwell office in Wailuku to pick up some much-needed items for teachers at Iao Intermediate School. Braving the stormy weather that day were Realtors Association of Maui (RAM) members Sarah Sorenson of Whale’s Tail Realty; Melissa Salvador of Old Republic Title Company; Jane Ng of Keller Williams Realty; and Darryl Ng of Sakamoto Properties—all volunteers for the Wishing Well…for Maui Students program, which collects furniture, school supplies and other items for Maui County’s public school students.

Brown and Caldwell is a full-service environmental engineering and construction firm in Wailuku. Last fall, Iris Cober, the firm’s office manager, contacted Wishing Well founder Sorenson after learning about the program from one of its past volunteer coordinators, Nancy Nevius of Locations Maui.

Cober told Sorenson the firm was moving to a new location in Wailuku—and would the Wishing Well like some of the items they couldn’t take with them? “Of course I said yes,” Sorenson laughed. Apart from improving the educational experiences of students at Iao Intermediate School, Cober said the firm wanted to make sure the no-longer-needed office equipment would not wind up in the county landfill.

And to Sorenson’s delight, Brown and Caldwell donated some much-sought-after items: seven large U-shaped office desks (which the volunteers disassembled and later reassembled to create 14 individual desks); three desk hutches; five chairs, 12 bookshelves of varying sizes; six lateral file cabinets; two mini refrigerators; a microwave; and many boxes of miscellaneous office supplies.

Run entirely by volunteer RAM members, the Wishing Well program has contributed more than $1.65 million in goods, services and cash donations to Maui County’s schools since its inception in 2007. Throughout the year, volunteers collect and distribute “wish list” items—everything from pencils to playground balls to scientific calculators to rubber slippers. Many parents are unable to provide the basic items their children need in the classroom, so the simple act of rounding up school supplies is a game changer for students, teachers and parents.

The Wishing Well program is a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization and there are no administrative costs, which means that 100 percent of everything donated goes directly to the schools. And the program’s reach isn’t confined to the island of Maui; it covers all public schools in Maui County and serves approximately 20,000 students on Maui, Molokai and Lanai.

In the past, Wishing Well volunteers held school supply drives at the entrance of the Kmart store in Kahului. But since the store closed its doors in 2017, Sorenson says donations are more important than ever. Whether its cash, school supplies or office equipment, every little bit helps.

Sorenson says she’s grateful to all of the Wishing Well school coordinators, volunteers and donors like Brown and Caldwell who want to make a difference for others. “Generous contributions like this one will allow us to continue to assist our Maui County public school teachers and students year-round,” she said. “When we receive much-needed office equipment and supplies like this, we are able to give even the basics to many teachers who may not have a working desk, or even an office chair to sit on.”

Want to make a difference for Maui’s students? In addition to pencils and paper, schools also need items you might not normally think of—like an easy chair for a student reading center; area rugs for group lessons; gardening tools; fans (yes, many classrooms still do not have air-conditioning); yoga balls; all types of school or office supplies; and rubber slippers. For more information about the Wishing Well…for Maui Students program or to make a donation, visit or call RAM at 873-8585.

By Sarah Ruppenthal
The Maui News – March 9, 2019

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