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Funds go to Koloa Elementary, can be found at The Shops at Kukui‘ula

KUKUI‘ULA — Koloa Elementary School student Chariya Olson-Rivera had no problem finding the gift bag she created Wednesday during the weekly Kauai Culinary Market at The Shops at Kukui‘ula.

“I know this is one of mine,” the fifth grader said. “My friend and I were the only ones doing this type. She did hers with a silver buckle. I made mine gold.”

Olson-Rivera’s gift bag was one of 700 gift bags available at select tenants at The Shops at Kukui‘ula — just in time to take advantage of Black Friday specials and holiday gift buying.

The gift bags were decorated by Koloa Elementary School students and are available for a donation at the participating merchants, or at the management office. Each bag includes a unique holiday tag and bow. The gift bags are available for a minimum donation of a dollar with The Shops at Kukui‘ula matching the donor’s contribution to a maximum of $1,000.

“We love keiki,” said Helaine Perel, The Shops at Kukui‘ula real estate manager. “This is the sixth year the shopping center has supported this annual fundraiser for the school. Last year, we contributed more than $2,000 to the school, and we applaud the merchants for supporting the education of our community.”

Linda Uyehara, Koloa School principal, said the proceeds from the gift bag program go toward supporting the school’s 15 after-school clubs, several of whom were available to provide holiday entertainment for the bustling crowd which was enhanced by the numerous red-shirted keiki frolicking in the gusty winds and occasional wind-swept showers.

“This is a true partnership,” Uyehara said. “I would like to thank Lisa Finch for coordinating this effort which makes the decorated festive holiday bags available for purchases made at participating merchants in the center. The kids work hard at this project and reap the benefits. We have some very talented student artists whose bags are truly works of art.”

Imani Belt, representing galerie 103 at a table with pop-up children books, said the bags were already moving.

“I had a donor stop by with a donation,” Belt said. “But she did not want her bag — she just liked the student work.”

The gift bag launch continued with a presentation by the Koloa Keiki Ukulele Band, the kindergarten class, and the first grade students. The program was highlighted by the surprise visit by Santa in Paradise — the first sighting of the holiday icon of this year’s holiday season.

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