Hawaii Police Department officials announce that families throughout the island donated more than 300 backpacks for children in need during a backpack drive between July and September. During the backpack drive, all police stations around the island doubled as drop-off points.
This was the fifth consecutive year the Police Department has worked in partnership with HOPE Services Hawaii (formerly known as the Office of Social Ministry) and From Kids For Kids in the collection and distribution of these items. In addition to the backpacks, thoughtful citizens donated numerous boxes worth of school supplies.
Police Chief Harry Kubojiri said he is grateful for the community’s participation.
“It is heartwarming to see the outpouring of compassion year after year,” Kubojiri said. “It is particularly rewarding to see how the number of donated backpacks has grown since this project began five years ago.”
Hope Services Hawaii provides a continuum of homeless and transitional programs from outreach to emergency shelters, including permanent supportive housing placements. From Kids For Kids was founded in 2006 by Big Island resident Nani Welch-Keliihoomalu, then 10, who was responsible for distributing backpacks containing books, clothing, art and school supplies.
Now 17, Welch-Keliihoomalu raised an additional $450 in cash donations for the project this year through her school, Hawaii Preparatory Academy. Another $250 was donated by the I. Kitagawa company, parent company to Kamaaina Motors, Napa Auto Parts, Kamaaina Nissan and Kona Auto Center. I. Kitagawa also collected 132 backpacks and several bags of school supplies after Ashley McCollum-Ranne, a payroll clerk at Kamaaina Motors, heard an announcement on the radio and approached General Manager Ivan Nakano about collecting backpacks from employees.
Other large contributors were HFS Federal Credit Union, which donated 75 backpacks, and Immaculate Heart of Mary Catholic Church in Papaikou, which donated 12 backpacks. Backpacks have been identified as the most requested nonfood item for charities in Hawaii. The donated backpacks are being distributed to women’s shelters, homeless shelters and transitional housing around the Big Island.