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20,000 meals made by two businesses for kids in need

Volunteers with Abbey Carpet of Maui work Saturday at the Kahului store to package 10,000 dried meals for local children in need. The Maui News KEHAULANI CERIZO photos

KAHULUI — Many hands made light work Saturday during a joint local effort to pack 20,000 dry meals for Maui children in need.

Volunteers comprising staff and family members at two locally owned Kahului stores, Hamai Appliance and Abbey Carpet of Maui, worked at their locations Saturday morning to assemble 10,000 dry meals per site as part of the nationwide No Child Hungry program.

Josie Vierra-Naleieha, a Kamehameha Schools Maui robotics student who said she enjoys science and math (but science is better if she had to pick), was counting food packs as they were loaded into boxes at Abbey Carpet.

“I like this job the best,” she said, comparing it to the other possible roles, such as sifting rice or dried vegetables.

Helen Orikasa, who was sealing packages nearby, said this particular outreach program is new for the company.

Helen Orikasa, wife of Abbey Carpet of Maui owner Warren Orikasa, talks with Josie Vierra-Naleieha, a Kamehameha Schools Maui student, while JR Ferguson seals No Child Hungry meal packages Saturday at the Kahului store.

“For our first experience, it’s really good,” she said.

John Tajima, Abbey Carpet’s lead sales manager, said the idea came from owner Warren Orikasa, who was talking with Hamai Appliance about Hamai’s business anniversary.

“They’re doing it, and it’s a good cause, so we thought we could participate too and give back,” he said.

In all, 20,000 dry meals, which hold FDA-certified ingredients containing 21 minerals and vitamins, along with soy protein and rice, were assembled Saturday.

Meals were distributed Sunday to Wailuku Union Church, St. Theresa Church, Maui Food Bank, Mental Health Kokua and Wananalua Church, among other groups, Tajima said.

Abbey Carpet of Maui salesman John Tajima shows a finished No Child Hungry package, which provides six servings of fortified rice and soy protein meals.

“Everything stays local,” he added.

Hamai Appliance is a member of Nationwide Marketing Group, which is coordinating the No Child Hungry program. At its semiannual meetings, it has packed close to 1 million meals that have been distributed to various locations, the group said.

No Child Hungry is the feeding program of My Neighbor’s Children, an organization that through meal-packing events, food drives and financial donations provides food to children in need within the U.S. and abroad.

For information, visit www.myneighborschildren.org.

* Kehaulani Cerizo can be reached at kcerizo@mauinews.com.