Project Hawaii volunteers kokua homeless keiki

At this time, and all other months of the year, coordinators of Project Hawaii Inc. are grateful for all of the kind folks who keep the nonprofit going strong, “providing precious homeless children with their life needs, helping them to escape their cycle of poverty” on the Big Island and Oahu.

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At this time, and all other months of the year, coordinators of Project Hawaii Inc. are grateful for all of the kind folks who keep the nonprofit going strong, “providing precious homeless children with their life needs, helping them to escape their cycle of poverty” on the Big Island and Oahu.

“Since Project Hawaii is solely supported by the public donations we receive, you all truly make the difference in their lives throughout the year,” said founder Magin Patrick.

“It seems the holidays have once again come so quickly this year, and with all the weather upsets, we, too, have fallen behind with some of our efforts to prepare ahead of time,” said Patrick, who offered the following story to illustrate her position:

“Ijust want to share a little story about the difference that Christmas truly makes in their tiny little poverty-stricken world. While it might be hard to imagine that over 23,000 children on the islands of Hawaii live 300 percent or more below the poverty level in substandard housing situations, such as tents, cars, makeshift tarp homes, etc. … that is the fact that cannot be denied.

“These children face daily challenges that, for the most part, you will never have to face. Wondering where their next meal might be coming from, sleeping in the dirt and never knowing what it means to be secure and safe in their own communities.

“Yes, Project Hawaii cares for these children on a monthly basis and provides food, clothing, hygiene, etc. It is the ‘normal’ life expediencies that truly change their heart and give them hope for a better tomorrow.

“Many of you might know about this little Christmas story, so with that, I want to provide the overview and the impact that came years later. One Christmas Eve, just before midnight, our Christmas elf stumbled across an old abandoned van with a toddler sleeping in a child seat.

“As our elf got out of Santa’s sleigh, calling out ‘is anyone here?’ a little girl popped her head out from behind a lava rock wall … ‘I am here, what do you want?’ she answered.

“Our little elf wanted to know what she wanted for Christmas because Santa didn’t know they were living here. She answered back with such disdain: ‘There is no Santa,’ hand on her hip and stomping her foot. Our elf asked for the mom and proceeded to continue the efforts of providing holiday cheer to all the homeless children on the islands.

“Mom asked with confusion why we would do this, and if all her children would get gifts, since she had nine. Yes, nine living in an old abandoned trailer on the water’s edge. The little girl once again popped her comments in, bold and loud, stating that Santa doesn’t exist and has never come to her family, so he isn’t real!

“Protecting her siblings from any further hurt and disappointment, she just wanted us gone. Well, Santa was not going anywhere. This little feisty girl started filling the list for her siblings’ wishes. Some are impossible, being Christmas Eve and all.

“With the spirit of Christmas, our elves went shopping, clearing the shelves of leftovers and hoping for the miracle of Christmas to come through for this wonderful little girl.

“Well, of course, Christmas happened, and the rare overpriced singing red CareBear was on the shelf just waiting for her there! Upon delivery, this little girl grabbed the huge bags out of our hands, started going through the wrapped gifts, and finally found hers. Ripping open the package to find her impossible gift, she shouted to all her siblings: ‘Santa is REAL, I told you he was!’

“So, what impact does that have on this child? Until now, I never truly knew. I have seen many successes come from the hope and support we provide. Just taking for granted that our services will change lives, hoping to touch the right spot in their hearts to continue their fight for a better tomorrow.

“Well, this little girl is the first in her family to finish high school, and that would be enough to start the process, but no, she actually went to and finished a four-year degree in social work and now works with the state Department of Human Services. … She was able to change her entire destiny and live a ‘regular” life.’

“I won’t want to say it was because of this fateful night, but she insists that if we hadn’t given her the belief in something other than what she was facing, she would be just like her mom and grandma before her. This is only an example of the success that your dedication and donations bring to these children who don’t really have the hope and belief in their hearts.

“The success stories are endless, and, unfortunately it seems, so are the homeless children replacing those who escape this terrifying cycle of poverty. Please take a few minutes to decide how you can help to make another successful holiday for a child. Yes, we have thousands on our list for the holidays, but one at a time with your help we can make all their holiday wishes come true.”

Here are ways to assist homeless island children via Project Hawaii:

• Start a Wish List Drive to sponsor a child’s wants and needs list (email for the number of keiki you want to sponsor).

• Start a fundraiser to help provide for the holiday party needs, and other holiday support that doesn’t get donated.

• Volunteer at one of Project Hawaii’s upcoming events, collection drives, etc.

• Spread the word about Project Hawaii on social media, etc., to get more people involved and make a difference.

Email Project Hawaii for more details and let coordinators know how you would like to move forward to help make this year a success for homeless keiki.

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Send emails to projecthawaiiinc@yahoo.com. Or, write to Project Hawaii at P.O. Box 1844, Keaau, HI 96749. You also can call 987-6018 for more information.

Check out volunteer opportunities on the online calendar at www.Helpthehomelesskeiki.org.

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