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Donations, with wings

KAPAA — Ric Cox never considered himself to be heavenly but as he spoke to Kauai’s philanthropists while wearing a fuzzy halo, he said he wants nothing more than to bless Kauai’s elementary schools.

That blessing would come in the form of big time funding for years to come, the president of the aptly named Aloha Angels said.

“I’m an outsider, I’m not an educator, but everything that the teachers, principals and parents have told me is that our school system, here in Hawaii, in general, particularly Hawaii but nationwide also, is not good,” Cox said. “We can’t change the system. Some people say, ‘You’re wasting your time, you should be trying to change the DOE.’ I’m too old to do that but I can do something every day to bring a smile to a teacher’s face or a child’s face.”

On Friday, the Aloha Angels president presented a new campaign with an ultimate goal to raise and give away $1 million a year for the benefit of 10,000 students and teachers.

“It will take a while but we’re just going to grow as fast as we can,” Cox said. “I would hope by, maybe not this year, that we’ll reach the million dollar level but at least the next year and keep it going after that.”

Through a donor advised fund at the Hawaii Community Foundation, Aloha Angels is hoping to raise the funds to support Adopt a Class, Adopt an After School Club, Adopt a Junior Achievement Class and other Adopt programs in all public elementary schools across Kauai in addition to the four public charter schools and pre-school classes.

The organization will be focusing its energy particularly on Kauai’s Westside as Kauai’s North Shore elementary schools have experienced the organization’s generosity.

Aloha Angel’s primary focus is to raise money from millionaires, billionaires, businesses and foundations with their tag line “philanthropists partnering for a more perfect Kauai.”

Cox said Aloha Angels is already making contact with individuals who have the means to help.

“Aloha Angels is a new import/export business,” Cox said during his presentation attended by around 25 people. “We’re going to import money, loads of it, and export high school graduates, who return with college diplomas and big dreams.”

A month ago, the organization set its minimum fundraising goal at $100,000 and surpassed the goal by raising $226,000 from its six Aloha Angel members and angelic donors.

“I’m very pleased that we raised so much money before we even launched the campaign and I think we can use what we’ve raised so far, the community involvement, to raise a lot more money,” Cox said. “So my goal is to use this opportunity to raise even more money and get it into the hands of the teachers as quickly as possible.”

Out of the $226,000, $132,800 is being awarded in grants while $54,600 is being awarded to PTSAs at three schools for Adopt a Class.

Cox also said the money will also provide $700 to teachers at the 78 elementary classrooms at Kapaa, Eleele and Kula Aupuni Niihau, which is a public charter school in Kekaha.

“For us, we’re thrilled to be able to participate,” said Ron Margolis, an angel member who attended the meeting and added that getting word out on the organizations efforts will help kick the goal into overdrive. “And we hope the bigger Kauai understands and is aware of our (fundraising events) … that allows us to do this.”

PTSAs at five schools for the Adopt an After School Mentoring Club are being awarded $35,200 while the rest of the money is being donated to similar programs such as Junior Achievement and Growing Our Own Teachers.

During the launch campaign presentation, Cox also honored the Aloha Angels who made it possible, including The Rotary Club of Kapaa’s president, Jim Saylor, whose foundation donated $103,800.

Representative of the Rotary Club of Hanalei Bay, John Young, was also recognized for his organization’s pledge of $20,000.

The Aloha Angels was established last month with the goal of helping Kauai’s elementary school students and teachers.

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