Making their mark; Kona youths give during the holidays

  • TOM LINDER/West Hawaii Today Kyle, Ken and Chris Santiago of the Salvation Army Kona Youth Band play Christmas songs Dec. 23 in front of Walmart in Kailua-Kona for the Salvation Army’s Red Kettle Campaign.

  • TOM LINDER/West Hawaii Today Alika Rigaud, right, donates his bike — won in a schoolwide contest — to Lt. Raghel Santiago at the Salvation Army Kona.

For years, Alika Rigaud has seen the cards written by children on the Salvation Army’s Angel Tree, asking for toys, bikes, surfboards and more.

For years, he wanted the chance to make one of those children’s wishes come true.

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When his school launched a competition — nearly a year ago — offering a handful of bikes as prizes, the then-eighth-grader saw his chance and took it.

“It was a contest for the whole intermediate school,” said Rigaud’s mother, Geri Johnston. “They said, ‘Tell us why you want a bike?’”

“We thought it was a good idea to enter the contest,” Rigaud added.

Rigaud’s submission was simple, but to the point: a poster of the tree with all the cards showing their Christmas wishes, along with his intentions to donate the bike to one of them.

Ultimately, his submission proved to be a winner. Only one problem arose in his plan: the bikes were awarded just days after Christmas 2019.

For another year, Rigaud was forced to wait.

His patience finally paid off.

Rigaud and other youths from throughout Kona are ensuring that when it comes to giving, the future of the community is in good hands. The Salvation Army of Kona finally received the donation, ensuring one of the kids on those cards had their wish fulfilled.

“It was a perfect opportunity to make someone’s holiday dream come true,” Rigaud said. “There’s too much hate in this world; we’ve got to spread a little bit of love, especially around the holidays.”

On the same day, Kyle, Ken and Chris Santiago with the Salvation Army Kona Youth Band helped collect donations by playing at the Kailua-Kona Walmart.

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In the middle of this year’s unusual holiday season, it was an encouraging sign. When it comes to giving, Kona’s youths are already making their mark.

Email Tom Linder at tlinder@westhawaiitoday.com.

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