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600 school supply kits distributed

Maui United Way Tools for School Drive kits include face mask, sanitizer

Maui United Way’s eighth annual Tools for School Drive raised $7,000 and equipped 600 youths with supply kits, even in this time of distance learning due to COVID-19.

The program was sponsored by HMSA and Pacific Media Group with Kamaha’o Akana of Kamehameha Schools Maui and Emma Khin of Maui Waena Intermediate serving as student coordinators this year.

Different kits were developed for elementary and intermediate/high school students.

The 300 elementary supply kits included crayons, colored markers, colored pencils, pencils, glue, composition/spiral notebooks, a folder, hand sanitizer, a face mask and soap.

The 318 intermediate/high school kits consisted of pencils, pens, folders, an eraser, filler paper, highlighter, hand sanitizer, a face mask and facial tissue.

“Although the Maui community is hurting right now, those who were able to give definitely stepped up and the donors can’t be thanked enough,” said Maui United Way President Nicholas Winfrey. “Even though our keiki are distant learning right now, over 600 were equipped with supply kits, and there are additional supplies to support families in need when they are able to return to school.”

Drop-off locations included Hawaii Medical Service Association, Wailuku Federal Credit Union, Abbey Carpet of Maui, Ceramic Tile Plus and all open American Savings Bank locations. HMSA provided a $2,000 donation, and the Kiwanis Club of Kahului donated $1,000 that was used to purchase hand sanitizer spray. Target provided a discount for all purchased items, which enabled funds to stretch further, the Maui United Way news release said.

Makana Nunes, community impact coordinator for Maui United Way, said that her agency partners with 39 nonprofits to distribute the kits to their clients in need. The partner agencies submit requests; Maui United Way inventories collections and purchases items to cover the requests.

“We were surprised that our agencies submitted 618 requests when we supplied close to 1,300 last year,” said Nunes. “After talking with our partner agencies, the requests went down because of various reasons.”

Some big requesters, like the Boys & Girls Clubs of Maui, ended up doing their own educational bags this year, and the Salvation Army didn’t need help because other corporate entities provided for their needs, she said.

Many agencies were unable to connect with their clients because programs could not meet in person due to the virus, she said. It was difficult for them to connect with their clients to see if they needed help.

“With that said, our community did rally together, and we still have almost half of the funds to use when school starts back up again or for next year when we will see more keiki needing supplies,” Nunes said.

She also said that the Maui United Way is working on sending two large boxes of supplies to Molokai and Lanai.

Student coordinators Akana and Khin recorded radio ads; solicited donations from family, friends and businesses; purchased, picked-up and sorted items; and assisted with putting together kits.

“They also do provide me insight into what is needed for each age group,” Nunes said.

Jolee Tanaka Correa was the first student coordinator, Nunes said. Correa, who was 10 at the time, noticed that some of her classmates didn’t have school supplies on the first day of school. She was inspired to start her own drive called Jolee’s Jumpstart.

The following year she partnered with Maui United Way as student coordinator for the Tools for School Drive. She graduated from high school in May and is currently attending University of Hawaii-Hilo. Correa passed the torch to her younger brother Akana and Khin.

“We are overwhelmed with the generosity of our community. Our keiki need us,” Nunes said.

To learn more about Maui United Way or to make a contribution, visit www.mauiunitedway.org or call 244-8787.

* Lee Imada can be reached at leeimada@mauinews.com.

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