Driven by thoughts of their keiki, inmates help create Festival of Lights

LIHU’E — Throughout the year, Kauai Community Correctional Center inmates Pat Garcia, Rick Iwatate and Matthew Samson pay their debt to society through their incarceration.

In November, the three inmates have been spending most of their waking hours on weekends repairing, renewing or creating Christmas creations to bring smiles to the faces of thousands of Kaua’i children and adults.

Garcia, Iwatate and Samson, under the supervision of KCCC Sgt. Gregory Perreira, who also helps to make decorations, are among more than 200 volunteers who have banded together to make the Ninth Annual Festival of Lights a success at the historic County Building on Rice Street in Lihu’e.

The yearly event features one-of-a-kind, lit Christmas artwork that was made by Josie and Joe Chansky and new creations made by hundreds of volunteers who come forward each year, mostly through the urging of the art coordinator, Elizabeth Freeman.

The yearly event boasts repaired artwork or new artwork, including lit, meshed murals, hales (homes), wreaths and trees, all located inside the historic County Building.

The bulk of the preparation work for the event has fallen on the shoulders of inmates and several hundred volunteers.


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