LIHUE — The line of people waiting to register for free bags of school supplies wound its way to the Nawiliwili Road entrance of Kukui Grove Center Saturday.
“This is crazy,” said Brent Mizutani of the state’s Department of Education. “But it’s a good kind of crazy.”
The line for the 2nd annual Back to School Bash wound its way around the Ross Dress for Less entrance, rounded the building and snaked past the loading zone onto the wall leading to the Kmart store as people waited patiently. Volunteers walked along the line, pre-registering people to facilitate the line’s movement.
“This is way more than last year,” said Judy Cano, the DOE Parent-Community Networking Centers coordinator. “But we learned from last year and the line is moving pretty good.”
Kaila Cacal, who will start working for Kukui Grove Center Monday, was among the throng of volunteers who worked to distribute more than a thousand bags of free school supplies to Kauai’s students during the event.
“I knew this was going to be big,” Cacal said. “I thought this would be a good way to get started.”
“It’s surprising to see how much each student needs to go back to school,” said Teresa Caires, Girl Scout leader from Troop 823 who donated five backpacks of school supplies to the Backpack Brigade. “Each bag has more than $100 of items. When my daughters were in middle school and below, I used to do this all by myself. It was tedious — especially labelling everything down to each crayon.”
Wade Lord, the Kukui Grove general manager, was thrilled as he rolled up his sleeves and dove in the midst of dignitaries, including Mayor Bernard Carvalho Jr., Rep. James Tokioka, Derek Kawakami, Kauai Area Complex Superintendent Bill Arakaki and others in passing out bags to a seemingly endless throng of shoppers.
“This is a good feeling, knowing that Kukui Grove Center can serve the community,” Lord said. “There is an entire level of other people who cannot even afford to get to the shopping center. That is the reason we give more bags and supplies to the Department of Education so their teachers are able to reach out.”
Lord said Kukui Grove is very grateful to its list of sponsors, including HMSA; Midweek and The Garden Island; Wilcox Health; Subaru Hawaii; No Ka Oi; and the Kauai Community, Kauai Teachers, Garden Island, McBryde and Kekaha federal credit unions to be able to do an event that benefits so many.