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Local non-profit part of ‘Friends of Hawaii Charities’ campaign

The charitable arm of Sony Open PGA Tour golf tournament, “Friends of Hawaii Charities,” has launched a campaign to benefit several charities in the state, and a local non-profit is taking part.

The Hui O Mana Ka Puuwai Outrigger Canoe Club is one of the charities participating in the “Aloha for Hawaii Charities” fund-raising movement.

“We had applied, originally, for a grant from them. They were kind enough to give us a small grant,” said Puuwai club president Brian Curll. “Then all of a sudden, they said, ‘We think you’re interesting. We’ve selected you for one of our charities this year.’”

“They are serious about focusing their charitable arm on Hawaii, and are looking for people and agencies from all the islands that they feel are supportive of the community with low overhead,” Curll explained. “We don’t carry salaries. We don’t have paid employees. Everything we do just goes back into getting equipment.”

Donations made through Aloha for Hawaii Charities will be fully received by the charity of choice, and that charity will be given a bonus boost from a funding pool from Friends of Hawaii Charities. Contributions to the campaign will be accepted through Jan. 17.

Money donated to the Puuwai Canoe Club will go toward restoring 40- to 50-year-old Malia canoes. The club aims to raise $21,500 and so far has totaled $9,000, including funds through Friends of Hawaii Charities and other fundraisers.

The canoes were made decades ago by Honolulu native Sammy Mokuahi Jr., more famously known as professional wrestler “Sammy Steamboat” during the 1950s.

“There are five (canoes), and they’re all named after one of his children,” Curll said. “Micah Mokuahi had been a coach for our children’s program for 13 years, and one of these canoes was named after him. That was his dad.

“They had been in separate places. Other people had borrowed them. It took him three years to get them back together, and he brought them all here to Kauai,” Curll continued. “He is lending them to us to use indefinitely, but his desire is to keep all these canoes together.”

Curll said that upon restoration, the canoes will be used in the water and not just stored.

“I have so many kids. I don’t have enough equipment. I’ve got 10 canoes now, but I don’t have enough canoes. You can only put six people in a canoe. Every year, we just get more kids.”

The Puuwai club, which was established as a 501C3 non-profit in 1991, is dedicated to preserving and enhancing the paddling sport for children and adults on the island.

“We have been here since 1990,” Curll said. “We think the learning of the cultural importance of these traditions is paramount to the quality of life here on Kauai — that these traditions be passed down to the next generation and that they adhere to them. They’ve lasted for millennia.”

Info: friendsofhawaii.org

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