Keiki at low-income complex get donations, equipment

Tennis balls no longer serve as a substitute for baseballs, and now there are actual bases on the baseball diamond at Waiale Park.

Thanks to community donations, children from the park’s nearby low-income rental housing facility, Hale Makana O Waiale, now have the proper equipment to play baseball.

Previously, dirt patches in the grass were used as bases and four baseball gloves were shared among 30 children at the county park in Wailuku. There was no T-ball stand because the only one the keiki had broke.

Since a public plea went out in July, the park facility owned by Ka Hale A Ke Ola Homeless Resource Center has received more than 50 various-sized baseballs, 10 gloves, three sets of bases, two T-ball stands, a baseball batting cage net and several cash donations totaling $1,650.

“We at KHAKO and Hale Makana O Waiale are overjoyed with the outpour of donors in the community,” said Joelvonne Kamaka, director of leasing for Hale Makana O Waiale.

She added that it has been a “chicken-skin” feeling from the facility’s staff, along with the baseball coaches and activity volunteers from New Hope Maui church.

“We feel so blessed to live in a community that is willing to come together and support the children of Hale Makana O Waiale.”

With the cash donations, the group has been able to do more for the children.

Purchased were jersey T-shirts, baseball caps, cleats and socks.

Kamaka said they are also looking to purchase catcher’s equipment and more gloves.

On Tuesday, the group looked like a full-fledged baseball team when the group took photos.

The team’s 17 to 20 children, who are from about 8 to 13 years old, were happy with the donations, with some calling it a “blessing,” Kamaka said. Baseball is the most familiar sport among children at the housing complex, especially among immigrant children because they played baseball in their homelands. The children practice in their spare time.

Coaches are Sam Peralta and Rebecca Alves from New Hope Maui. They are accompanied by various volunteers, including members of Youth with a Mission.

* Melissa Tanji can be reached at mtanji@mauinews.com.