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Koloa fifth-graders help Special Olympics

KOLOA — Special Olympic athlete William Burwell was thrilled when he was recognized while approaching the Koloa School office to sign in.

Burwell, with his shirt neatly tucked in and a nice new cap on, said, “They told me I had to dress nice, so I got my good clothes on.” Burwell, along with Kaua‘i Special Olympics representative Shelly Gerardo, were guests of the Koloa School fifth-graders recently.

The class cut straight to the chase, and presented Burwell with a contribution of $150.83. That total represented the class’ work for the past five weeks collecting recycleables every Wednesday from 7 a.m. to 7:40 a.m.

Suzanne Kashiwaeda, the advisor for the “Trash to Treasures” program for the fifth-graders, added that the students got a little help from an individual contribution from a teacher, but mostly, it was the students’ hard work.

Under the program, students collect plastic recycleable bottles and aluminum cans for redemption, with the funds going to a charitable cause of their own selection.

Earlier in the school year, the Koloa School fifth-graders had made a contribution to the Hawaii Children’s Theatre.

Kashiwaeda said the class will present funds to three organizations in the school year, but had yet to vote on which organization would be the beneficiary of their final collection schedule.

Gerardo, who lives in Koloa, was impressed with the students’ efforts.

“Kaua‘i Special Olympics gets its funding only through contributions, so this really means a lot to the athletes who compete,” Gerardo said.

“It’s these types of contributions to our fund-raising efforts that enable the program to continue.” Burwell had found his self-confidence, and talked to the class about the types of year-round athletic programs available for the Special Olympic athletes, adding that it’s really special when they get to travel to O‘ahu for the state competitions.

People interested in helping the Koloa School fifth-grade efforts are welcome to bring their recycleable cans and plastic bottles to the drive-through fronting the Koloa Public/School Library on campus every Wednesday between 7 a.m. and 7:40 a.m.

And, by chance, you might get a cheer for your efforts.

• Dennis Fujimoto, staff writer and photographer, may be reached at 245-3681 (ext. 253) or


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