WAILUKU - Dozens of Maui schoolchildren residing at Ka Hale A Ke Ola's two homeless resource centers were treated to complimentary haircuts and styling, school supplies, clothing and craft activities at a back-to-school event Sunday in Wailuku.
The new school year begins today for most of Maui's public school students.
Sunday's event was a first of its kind and provided school supplies for 74 students ranging in age from 4 to 17, according to Tiffany Somera, director of children services for Ka Hale A Ke Ola's Wailuku shelter. The supplies also benefitted clients at the nonprofit's Lahaina facility.
Hokulele Horswill-Carroll, a 4th-grader at Wailuku Elementary, got her hair cut and styled by Hannah Park of Fierce Salon at a back-to-school event Sunday at Ka Hale A Ke Ola Homeless Resource Center in Wailuku.
The Maui News / NANEA KALANI photo
In previous years, donated supplies have been delivered to residents' units.
"Education plays a vital role in breaking the cycle of homelessness, so we saw this as a great opportunity to get the community to come together," Somera said. "It's something uplifting."
Ka Hale A Ke Ola Homeless Resource Centers works to serve the needs of the homeless and hungry on Maui by providing emergency housing and food and empowering them to take responsibility for their lives.
Sunday's event was organized with the help of Lena Staton of AFL-CIO Community Services in partnership with Maui United Way.
The bulk of the donated supplies came from members of three Lions Club organizations: the Haleakala Lions, Maui Lions and Kahului Maui Airport Lions clubs.
Somera researched school supply lists online for each student, and organizers individually prepared and labeled bags.
"The need for resources for children going back to school grows and grows every year," said Staton, who is a member of Haleakala Lions. "We've done school supply drives in the past, but this year we decided to do a little bit more, and it just kept growing as I reached out to friends, church friends and the Lions."
Hair stylists with Great Styles & Cuts in Kihei, Fierce Salon in Kahului and Madison Avenue Beauty & Boutique in the Queen Ka'ahumanu Center donated their services Sunday.
"It's so nice to have them look good and feel good to go back to school," Staton said.
Children anxiously lined up for their turn with a stylist. Some of their parents and grandparents also got complimentary cuts.
"I'm really looking forward to going to back to school now," said Kelly-Jo Molina, a 5th-grader at Waihee Elementary School, who got her hair trimmed Sunday.
Edwin Aveado Jr. said he was looking forward to his freshman year at Baldwin High School after picking out a new backpack and getting a haircut at the back-to-school event.
Other event volunteers did face painting and helped students make decorated pens and name tags for backpacks. A "dress to impress" booth offered donated clothing and shoes for students.
"With the help of the community, we've moved one step closer to helping end poverty and provide for these families in need," Somera said.
* Nanea Kalani can be reached at email@example.com.