‘We are so blessed’

KALAHEO — Nearly 500 students and staff at Kalaheo Elementary School gathered for their annual “welcome back” assembly in the cafeteria on Friday.

Before it was over, they were cheering.

“You may recall our being here last December to announce that donors to Aloha Angels were giving $700 to each of your homeroom teachers,” said Aloha Angels President Ric Cox. “Your teachers were asked to spend that money on making you a better student.”

“Standing next to me are four philanthropists,” he continued.

“How many of you personally know a philanthropist? Well, you are about to meet four of them. And each philanthropist has some exciting news to share with you.”

Paul Horner, general manager of The Club at Kukui’ula, said he and two associates had donated $4,900 to adopt seven of the 21 homeroom teachers. Under a program called Adopt a Teacher (formerly Adopt a Class), each will receive $700 for classroom supplies and a field trip.

Next, Glenn Hong, president of Young Brothers, Ltd., announced his company had donated $10,000 to adopt of the school’s remaining 14 teachers.

Rick Sakamoto, general manager of Aloha Air Cargo, then announced that his company had donated $5,000 to adopt five after-school clubs.

State Senate President Ron Kouchi, who encouraged Hong to become a supporter, told the excited students: “Your teachers will be spending their $700 on you. Tell them what they should buy — to make you better students.”

Principal Erik Burkman was delighted.

“To have such generous support from the community is inspiring,” he said.

Teacher Brittney Ishibashi added, “We are so blessed to have this monetary support to make our classrooms more beneficial for our keiki.”

Kalaheo is the first stop Cox plans to make at Kauai’s 13 public elementary schools to inform what he hopes will be all 250 homeroom teachers that they are being adopted by Aloha Angels’ donors for the second year. For teachers on the North Shore, this will be the fifth year they receive $700.

Once all teachers and clubs have been adopted, Cox said, Aloha Angels will focus on funding the purchase of computers, to help schools reach their goal of providing one device for each student. That program, called Adopt a Computer, will require hundreds of thousands of dollars to fully fund, he added.

His goal for 2016 is to raise $500,000. So far, gifts and pledges total $149,000.

Since it was launched in May 2015, Aloha Angels has raised $448,000, and distributed $279,000, to support Kauai’s teachers and students.

Counting $383,000 raised when programs now funded by Aloha Angels were part of the Rotary Club of Hanalei Bay, from January 2013 through April 2015, gifts and pledges total $830,000. Distributions total $669,000.

“Because it gives money directly to teachers to spend on their students, Aloha Angels is one of the most effective programs on Kauai,” Kouchi said. “I am proud to support it, and urge others to do so.”


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