LANAI CITY - Lanai residents turned out for Trilogy Excursions' annual Lanai turkey giveaway Saturday, taking home around 1,000 11-pound turkeys for their Thanksgiving feasts.
"We look forward to this event every year," said Lanai resident Jonie Sarmie. "This helps at this time of year. It really does, especially in these hard economic times."
The event that's become a holiday tradition for the island of around 3,000 residents also drew local nonprofits and community programs hoping to piggyback off the gathering to provide health screenings, environmental education, car seat safety checks and other services.
Ricardo Madaoy (from left), Andresa Teppanj and Johnny Madaoy sit near Lanai Avenue after picking up bags filled with turkeys, rice and other goodies provided by Trilogy Excursions, the Maui Hotel & Lodging Association and other groups in the 15th annual Lanai City turkey giveaway event.
The Maui News / CHRIS HAMILTON photo
Rose Jane of the Lanai Community Health Center said it's probably the only time of the year when just about everyone comes out.
Former Honolulu mayor and Congressional candidate Mufi Hanneman also showed up to chat with residents and hand out goody bags.
Also Saturday, the Four Seasons Resorts held a community job fair.
"As the largest employer on the island, we want to make sure that the community knows our commitment to them," said Four Seasons Resorts Human Resources Director Ron Emler.
It's the 15th year that Trilogy owners Jim and Randy Coon have been giving away turkeys to Lanai residents, first to their employees and then enough to theoretically feed the entire population for Thanksgiving. The Maui Hotel and Lodging Association also donated 1,000 5-pound bags of rice for the event.
"It's a community tradition," said Michelle Del Rosario, whose husband, Vincent, was born and raised on Lanai. "The concept for this is to feed every family on the island. It's pretty special when every home knows they are going to have a turkey on the table at Thanksgiving."
The tour company, which also owns the island's only gas station, handed out 1,000 11-pound turkeys, enough to feed Lanai's roughly 3,000 residents, said event co-coordinator Carol Reimann of the Maui Hotel & Lodging Association.
With limited options for grocery shopping on the island, it hasn't always been easy to get a turkey for the traditional holiday meal, said resident Violett Hee.
"This is just a blessing," Hee said. "All of it. It's just good for the community and is a marvelous experience."
"I'm so proud to be a part of this and help support the people who raised me," said Lanai native Albert Ranis Jr. of Young Bros., which volunteered to deliver the rice.
Jim Coon said it was rewarding to see how the giveaway has grown into an event that brings the community together.
"We're the magnet and bring in the nonprofits and others to bless this far beyond today," he said. "That's the real long-term value."
* Chris Hamilton can be reached at email@example.com.