Last year, The Garden Island/Zonta Christmas Fund raised a record $32,000 in donations.
Yoshiko “Dimples” Kano believes the community could do even better this year.
“We have so many generous people on this island,” she said.
Kano, once again, will be the driving force behind the fundraiser to bring Christmas joy to families in need on Kauai. She’s been doing this for more than two decades and this is supposed to be her curtain call.
“I’m closer to 92 than 91,” she said, laughing.
“This will be her last year,” said Marge Akana, club treasurer who has been friends with Kano more than 50 years. “She’s going to have to take it easy and just be a Zonta member
The woman known for her kind smile and generous heart is determined to do all she can to brighten the holidays for all, but especially for those who don’t have as much as others.
She hears the stories of little boys and girls and the delight on their faces Christmas morning, when they open gifts, they might not otherwise have received them if not for the TGI/Zonta Christmas Fund.
“We don’t get to see the reactions, but the agencies tell us the joy you see on their faces, the unbelievable joy, is wonderful,” Kano said.
She received a thank you card from a child, she said, that was priceless.
“It was so cute, scribbled out a note saying thanks for the gifts,” she said.
Here’s how the program works:
Through Christmas Eve, The Garden Island will share daily, front page stories about families (we don’t use their real names) facing challenges and who would appreciate a little help.
The Garden Island/Zonta Christmas Fund is an avenue for everyone to provide that assistance. Donations to the Christmas Fund will be distributed by Zonta Club members, who purchase gift certificates at local stores to make wishes come true.
Each donated dollar is accounted for and carefully recorded. Rest assured, the money is spent wisely.
There are no administrators collecting salaries. There are no hidden costs. The money goes directly to provide gift certificates to those who need them for gifts and groceries. The gift certificates are distributed in early December.
That’s the short and simple of it. But it’s impact is far-reaching.
The Garden Island/Zonta Christmas Fund was established in the early 1980s when Jean Holmes was editor of TGI. Dimples says it has been rewarding to see so many families benefit through the generosity of the community.
“It’s brought a lot of happiness to families in need,” she said.
This year’s effort is dedicated to Holmes, who passed away earlier this year, and who helped start this fund decades ago and was one of its strongest advocates
“She really believed in it,” Kano said.
If keiki and adults rally to this cause, if businesses and community organizations find ways to contribute, it will brighten the holidays for hundreds of families — and that includes many, many children who might otherwise go without what many among us take for granted on Christmas morning.
The fund, Akana said, “is good for the community and good for Zonta.”
Kano said they received more than 200 applications for help from nine social service agencies.
So let’s do our best to keep this program going strong. Let’s do all we can to make it happen — to keep Dimples smiling and to share Christmas cheer across Kauai. If you hold a fundraiser for the Christmas Fund, let us know and we’ll spread the word. Anyone making a donation of $50 or more may have his or her picture presenting the check published in TGI.
Only monetary donations are accepted. Checks, payable to Zonta Club of Kauai Foundation, can be mailed to P.O. Box 3032, Lihue, HI., 96766. For further information, call Kano at 822-4517
The following are stories of just a few of the people who could use our help. While their names have been changed, the situations described are real.
w Candi is a single mom who came to the shelter after a traumatic beating and sexual assault. She has lived on island working as a painter and has a good job with driving for a company. She has two children that witnessed her beating. They are working to turn their lives around and are grateful to find shelter. The daughter, 9, would like a play house. The son, 12, would like new skate shoes.
w Sissy is a single mom with three children. She has won us all over with her upbeat spirit and determination to leave an abusive marriage. She has filed for a divorce and is already in a wonderful job at the Sheraton. She loves taking care of her children and drives them to baseball and football practice and makes sure her daughter is in supervised activities after school. Her sons would like Legos for Christmas. Her daughter would like friendship bracelets.
w Zachary is 42 and working on bettering himself and his life. His bike was recently been stolen. “I don’t count on others as I am trying to be an independent person. I am a recovering addict,” he said. “I have been clean and sober. I don’t have much and would love to be able to have a new pillow and blanket, a nice pair of shoes and a couple of pants.”