Aloha Airlines donates funds to ‘Ready to Learn’ program

Ready to Learn (R2L), a non-profit organization that provides needy schoolchildren with school supplies, announced on Tuesday that it received nearly $35,000 in contributions from Aloha Airlines this year.

Of those contributions, Aloha Airlines employees donated $15,000 as part of their annual collection drive.

R2L is a partnership between U.S. Senator Daniel K. Inouye, Mrs. Maggie Inouye and Helping Hands Hawaii, a non-profit organization based in Honolulu.

“We would like to thank the employees of Aloha Airlines for their support; year in and year out. A little Aloha can make a world of difference for Hawai‘i’s needy schoolchildren.”

Aloha Airlines donated the remaining $20,000 by providing in-kind shipping services; a contribution that makes providing school supplies to the neighbor islands possible.

“There is no question that the in-kind shipping provided by Aloha Airlines allows us to help more children,” said Inouye.

In the past, the R2L project collected school supplies for needy children on the island of Oahu, serving an average of 2,000 to 3,500 children annually. However, because of Hawaii’s poor economy, the number of children needing assistance jumped to an unexpected 13,970 requests in 1997 — a nearly 400 percent increase over the previous year.

Hundreds of children were turned away because of a shortage of available supplies and resources.

In 1998, with the assistance of Dan and Maggie Inouye, Ready to Learn provided 24,000 children in Kindergarten through grade 12 with school supplies as they started classes in the fall.

For the first time, the project was also extended to the Neighbor Islands, where rural communities were especially distressed with high unemployment.

This year, it is estimated more than 25,000 children will need school supplies — an alarming projection and a daunting challenge.

Working with the Department of Education, the Hawaii State Teachers Association, businesses, the National Guard and students themselves, hundreds of volunteers are committed to ensuring every child has the pencils, paper, rulers and crayons needed to be Ready to Learn.

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