Getting to the nationals, one can at a time

KOLOA — Two players of the Regional champion Koloa Pop Warner Junior Pee Wee team are recyclers.

Christian Kopps and James Bukoski are fifth-graders at Koloa School who conduct its Trash to Treasures recycling program every Wednesday in front of the Koloa Library.

“When the class found out the Koloa JPW team had won the regional playoffs, they all got excited,” Suzanne Kashiwaeda, the program’s advisor said. “They decided they would like to contribute the proceeds from the Trash to Treasures to help the team get to Florida for the National Pop Warner championships.”

The team leaves for Florida on Sunday, and on Tuesday morning, Kashiwaeda presented close to $200 to help with expenses for the trip.

“The program has been doing very well,” Kashiwaeda said. “Since school started, this is the second presentation the class has made to a charitable organization.”

Kashiwaeda said she was pleased to make the presentation to the Koloa Pop Warner program, and even happier they could present close to $200, the funds representing recycling collections done in less than two months.

Earlier, the class presented close to $200 to the Special Olympics of Kaua‘i “Cop on Top” program.

Kashiwaeda started the program last year with the fifth-grade class, and due to its success, now gets help from some of the fourth graders as well.

Last year, the fifth-grade class made presentations to the Easter Seals, Special Olympics of Kaua‘i and the Hawai‘i Children’s Theater, Kashiwaeda said.

Fifth-grade students are broken down into teams who man the sidewalks fronting the library each Wednesday from 7 a.m. until school starts. The collection is brought over to Kashiwaeda’s class where she brings the load into Lihu‘e while doing errands.

“They don’t keep any of the funds generated by recycling. The class decides who they will be giving the funds to,” she said. “At the end of the year, they get treated to a little get-together for their efforts.”

Kashiwaeda said they plan on doing more presentations during the school year.

Duke Ha‘o is a fourth-grader who will be coming into the program next year. The Koloa JPW tackle is excited about going to Florida.

“I’ve been to Honolulu and California, but I’ve never been to Florida,” Ha‘o said.

Kashiwaeda said part of the reason for the team’s success is the dedication demonstrated by the students who play on the team.

She said on nights she works late, she’s seen the players with all their equipment biking up to the Anne Knudsen Field where the team holds practices. Then, after the sun has set and darkness envelops the town, she sees the students biking home with all their equipment.

“That is what makes champions,” she said. “They do this every day.”

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