Hawaiian Airlines, volunteers clean Salt Pond

Saturday in Hanapepe at Salt Pond, where the famous red ala`e salt is artfully made and acquires its color from the oxidized iron ore of Kauai’s ancient volcano, members of the Frank and Abby Santos ohana and employees of Hawaiian Airlines came together in the spirit of laulima (hands working together) to clean and remove the area of overgrown bushes, trash and other items surrounding this important cultural and historic site.  

The 70 combined ohana started clearing the area early in the morning hours, which resulted in eight truckloads of vegetation that were dropped off at the nearby Hanapepe Refuse Station, where it would be recycled for compost. An additional bag containing nearly $15 worth of glass and plastic bottles was also redeemed by the person who turned in all these recyclable and used bottles. 

Afterwards, everyone enjoyed the cool breeze of the Kona winds, a much safer, cleaner, open and more pleasant area for salt makers and beachgoers, an improved and scenic landscape of the Waimea Canyon and the personal satisfaction of what communities can accomplish in the spirit of laulima in stewardship and sustainable efforts. 

As a result of this laulima cleanup, it was everyone’s hope that there would be no more trash and bad behavior in this pristine and sacred place, which is one of Kauai’s most important sites and, more importantly, connects everyone with the islands’ Native Hawaiians over centuries.

In connecting the past to the present, last week also was Hawaiian Airline’s 85th anniversary. For those visiting Mana in west Kauai at the Pacific Missile Range Facility, there is even a photo of one of the early aircraft landing at Kauai’s third airport (the others are Burns Field, Hanapepe and Lihue). As part of the annual birthday observance, the airline’s ohana volunteer at communities throughout Hawaii to work in partnership with nonprofits across the state and to participate in renewable and sustainable activities. 

Some of the activities planned included reforestation on the Big Island of Hawaii to a cleanup at Maui Farm, which provides training/education programs for clients in self-sufficient living and, to a former plantation town in Ewa Oahu at Verona Village with the Hawaiian Railway Society to also partner in cleanup efforts. 

Collectively, like on the Garden Island of Kauai, an important part of the celebration is the airlines’ commitment toward giving back and volunteering by helping communities across Hawaii in efforts in sustainable living practices, environmental stewardship and management. Together, these serve as reminders of some of the company’s core values of a culture of kuleana, laulima and aloha.  

This year’s Kauai partners were the Santos ohana, who have maintained the art and tradition of salt making from Frank Santos predecessors, who have passed on and taught him and his ohana the art of salt making. Not a bad week which started the Saturday before with Frank and Abby being recognized as one of several islanders by the Kauai Museum as Kauai Living Treasures.   

Randy Francisco is president of the Kauai Chamber of Commerce.

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