The spirit of giving: Ironman Foundation provides Thanksgiving bundles to 600 families

  • Volunteers worked hard Monday loading 600 Thanksgiving bundles into a seemingly never-ending line of vehicles containing families needing a turkey dinner with all the fixings ahead of the Thursday’s holiday. (Chelsea Jensen/West Hawaii Today)

  • Sheryl Cobb loads one of the 600 boxes of Thanksgiving fixings into a vehicle during Monday's Kahiau Together community distribution event in Kailua-Kona. (Chelsea Jensen/West Hawaii Today)

  • Volunteers Ocean Kanekoa, right, and Laina Reisenfeld, left, loaded a turkey and box of Thanksgiving fixings into a vehicle on Monday during a Kahiau Together community distribution event in Kailua-Kona. (Chelsea Jensen/West Hawaii Today)

  • Volunteers Sam Glenn, right, and Heather Fuhr, left, load a turkey and box of fixings into a truck during Monday's Kahiau Together community distribution event in Kailua-Kona. (Chelsea Jensen/West Hawaii Today)

  • Volunteer Winona Chen helps direct vehicles from four lanes to two lanes during Monday's Kahiau Together community distribution event in Kailua-Kona. (Chelsea Jensen/West Hawaii Today)

  • Ironman World Championship Race Director Diana Bertsch waves to a keiki as the family left Monday's Kahiau Together event. (Chelsea Jensen/West Hawaii Today)

  • Volunteers Kristy Foth, Claudia Kane and Janet Miller, from front to back, provide cheerful messages while helping to direct vehicles Monday during a Kahiau Together community distribution event in Kailua-Kona. (Chelsea Jensen/West Hawaii Today)

  • Fourteen-year-old Ocean Kanekoa, who created the online farmers market Paina by Ocean, loads a box of Thanksgiving fixings into a vehicle as volunteer Laina Reisenfeld swoops in from behind with a turkey on Monday during a Kahiau Together community distribution event in Kailua-Kona. (Chelsea Jensen/West Hawaii Today)

  • A woman holds a sign thanking volunteers, the Ironman Foundation and Paina by Ocean for the Thanksgiving bundles distributed Monday morning in Kailua-Kona. (Chelsea Jensen/West Hawaii Today)

  • Volunteers worked like professionals Monday morning directing hundreds of vehicles in four lanes down to two lanes to receive a free Thanksgiving bundle. (Chelsea Jensen/West Hawaii Today)

  • Ironman World Championship Race Director Diana Bertsch, right, and Mahea Akau, Ironman World Championship event manager and community relations manager for Kahiau Together, give a man well wishes as he left Monday's Kahiau Together event on a moped with his turkey and the fixings situated between his legs. (Chelsea Jensen/West Hawaii Today)

Hundreds of families will enjoy a traditional Thanksgiving meal this year thanks to the Ironman Foundation.

Volunteers worked hard Monday loading 600 Thanksgiving bundles into a seemingly never-ending line of vehicles containing families needing a turkey dinner with all the fixings ahead of the Thursday’s holiday.

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“We’re excited for the turnout,” said Mahea Akau, Ironman World Championship event manager and community relations manager for Kahiau Together, as vehicles passed through the drop zone. “It’s been such a humbling experience for our team.”

Monday’s distribution event was part of the Ironman Foundation’s Kahiau Together initiative created to keep Hawaii Island fed amid the COVID-19 pandemic. The foundation selected the Hawaiian word “kahiau” because it means to give generously or lavishly without the expectation of anything in return — something Hawaii Island has provided the Ironman World Championship annually for more than four decades.

“This community has done so much for Ironman and we’re grateful we have the opportunity to give back,” said Akau.

The foundation, Ironman’s nonprofit arm, has pledged $1 million to provide hunger relief to the island. Since July, nearly 30,000 meals have been served via 11 distribution events focused on furloughed hotel and restaurant workers from Keauhou to South Kohala.

“They made a million-dollar commitment to feed our community and we’re going strong,” Akau said.

Monday’s event was only the third community distribution.

“We wanted to make it special. We wanted to work around Thanksgiving,” said Akau. “We also partnered with Paina by Ocean to make sure that we could procure all the right local ingredients to complement a nice 12-14 pound turkey that can feed a family of eight to 10 people.”

Each of the 600 Thanksgiving bundles distributed Monday contained a turkey weighing at least 12 pounds, 1 pound local sausage mix, 24-ounce loaf of Punaluu sweet bread, one stalk celery, 5 pounds of Russet potatoes, 2 pounds of local sweet potato, one can of cranberry sauce, 7 ounces of local salad mix and a bag of frozen corn.

Heather Rosehill was behind the wheel of one of those vehicles Monday, picking up a box for a high-risk resident of Hualalai Elderly.

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“This is really important for her,” said Rosehill. “She needs to feel like part of the community.”

The 43rd running of the Ironman World Championship in Kailua-Kona, which was to be held Oct. 10, was canceled in July due to the pandemic. The grueling triathlon featuring a 2.4-mile swim, 112-mile bike ride and 26.2-mile run is set to return Oct. 9, 2021.

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