Big Island Surf keiki deliver gifts to homeless

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For two Hawaii Island families this year, Santa arrived wearing cleats.

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For two Hawaii Island families this year, Santa arrived wearing cleats.

Big Island Surf Soccer Club keiki adopted two homeless families with help from Hope Services Hawaii, providing parents and children alike with gifts for the season.

On Monday, after carefully choosing and wrapping everything from toys to laundry soap, the teams and their coaches were able to bring their gifts — and a Christmas tree with lights — directly to their adopted families, who are in transitional housing provided by Hope Services.

Hugs, tears and smiles followed, said club administrator Misty Ambrosio.

“It was such an emotional time for all of us,” she said. “It was nice because a lot of them (the kids) are classmates and they didn’t even know.”

“It’s probably one of the biggest gifts a parent could give to their child, is perspective on how their life differs from others,” said Hope Services volunteer and community partnership coordinator Malu Debus. “Nobody has the same life, and we should all do our best to get involved.”

Big Island Surf SC is made up of about 50 players. The club tries to do at least one community service project every year.

In 2014, on the heels of Tropical Storm Iselle, teams served up meals to Pahoa residents. A few months later, Ambrosio said, the group worked to raise money for the Heart to Heart for Maddie fundraiser.

This October, after some club families watched “No Room in Paradise,” the recent documentary about homelessness in Honolulu, the group decided they wanted to help the East Hawaii homeless population.

“I was a foster kid and I’ve been in many shelters,” Ambrosio said. “We wanted to see the kids smile and be part of the joy of Christmas.”

Hope Services had several “adopted” families this season. Debus said the donation boxes at the organization, where people can drop off their gifts, were overflowing.

“Our hearts are absolutely blessed this year,” she said.

“This has been such a beautiful year of support and I would really encourage people to not forget (about service) after the holiday season is done.”

“The kids did mention that this is something that we want to do yearly,” Ambrosio said.

“We’re hoping to adopt more families; we don’t want to adopt just two families.”

After the initial delivery of presents this week, the soccer club went back to the transitional housing to bring a gift to their families’ neighbors as well.

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“I think the earlier we get our children involved in investing in their community and the individuals and families in it, the better off the entire community is, when it comes down to it,” Debus said. “We just have so many thanks.”

Email Ivy Ashe at iashe@hawaiitribune-herald.com.

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