LIHUE — A lesson from the Lord brought Arnold Leong and a group of his friends to the Kauai Economic Opportunity emergency homeless shelter on Christmas night, laden with food they prepared for the shelter’s residents.
“I do every Christmas Day dinner there after a commitment I made last year,” Leong said. “We try to fulfill the lesson from the Lord, ‘to do for others as you would do for yourself.’ I do not have hot dogs for Christmas dinner, and so I try ‘to do unto others as I would do for myself.’”
Leong was joined by a group of people, namely Rev. Jerry Shigaki of St. John’s Episcopal Church in Eleele; Shigaki’s daughter Christine, who was visiting with her family from Seattle; and Laurel and Steve Coleman of Kalaheo with their son David, who was home for the holidays.
The crew descended on the KEO facility in Pua Loke which was shrouded by darkness, a pocket of light from the kitchen/social hall pushing back against the dark. Their menu for the night was prime rib roast, shrimp scampi, potatoes and rice, hot vegetables, salad, dinner rolls and dessert.
“That’s not all they’re doing,” said Dr. Laurel Coleman, who goes to the same church as Leong and helps him at other volunteer functions. “They’re making gift bags inside the kitchen. The gift bags have plush face, hand and bath towels, bath soaps, deodorant, shaving razors and creams, some quality candy and nuts, oral hygiene supplies and plastic holders for soap and toothbrushes.”
Leong said the people at the KEO facility are not alcohol or drug abusers, or criminals.
“They are people who, for whatever reason, are having a hard time,” he said. “There is no better gift at this time of the year than the gift of being able to give. It is better to give than to receive. Being able to give, no matter what it is, brings a warmth to the heart that comes directly from whomever you worship.”
Leong also helps with the bon dance at the Samuel Mahelona Memorial Hospital, and operates The Fah Inn for the Kauai Hospice at the annual Concert in the Sky. He also leads a group from the Lihue Missionary Church in preparing meals at the KEO homeless shelter every first Monday of the months, a service they have been doing for the past eight years, and leads volunteers from the Episcopal Churches on West Kauai, including St. John’s, in doing dinners on the fourth Thursday of the month.
“At first I was doing it solo,” Leong said. “But last year, Christmas was on Thursday and a dentist, Christine Shigaki, and her family from Seattle along with her dad, the rotational minister at the Episcopal Churches on West Kauai, decided we would do this every Christmas from now on until we physically cannot.”