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Activity companies offer chances to donate to charity

KOLOA — Offering a way for visitors to give back to the community wasn’t a scheme to increase profits at Koloa Zipline, but that’s what happened.

“Sales went up when we started offering these programs, these avenues of giving back to the island,” said Derek Green, owner of Koloa Zipline — which also owns Kauai ATV, Koloa Bass Fishing and Aloha Kauai Tours.

The company’s guides take photos of the activities and sell them to their customers at a discount if customers bring in three cans of food or a $5 donation.

Food donations go to the Kauai Independent Food Bank and the Kauai Humane Society’s pet food bank. Cash donations go to Bandwagon Music Center and Kanuikapono Charter School in Anahola.

The response is encouraging for everyone, Green said.

“It feels amazing when you can facilitate something like that,” he said.

The money is great for Bandwagon Music Center, whose mission is to make sure every Kauai keiki has the opportunity to learn to play musical instruments.

“It’s enabled us to give out scholarships and partial scholarships,” said Jeremy Hartshorn, owner of Bandwagon Music Center. “We’re able to meet families part way, or completely cover membership dues.”

There’s more to the story than just cash, though, Hartshorn said.

“It’s encouraging for us to have the support, not only financially, but the moral support, too,” he said. “It’s amazing to have people believing in what we’re doing.”

Customers of Koloa Zipline and its other activity companies have donated a couple of thousand dollars to Bandwagon Music Center.

“Derek said they were going to create a way for their customers to support (the community) through a discount as an incentive,” Hartshorn said. “The people have really gotten behind it.”

Annually, the company also funnels thousands of pounds of food to the Kauai Independent Food Bank and to the KHS pet food bank.

“Most of our customers end up donating more money that they save,” Green said.

Kauai ATV, along with its affiliates, isn’t the only company to connect visitor compassion with the needs of the island.

Skyline Eco Adventures, for example, occasionally offers kamaaina promotions in which Hawaii residents can get free zipline tours with the donation of 10 non-perishable food items per person.

The last one was in September and Skyline customers donated 5,614 pounds of food to Kauai Independent Food Bank.

Green said he hopes the idea will catch fire with companies all over the island and people will see more opportunities to give back woven into their daily lives — like Table 53 at RumFire in Poipu, where net proceeds go to local charities.

“I see people in need and as one person I can give a bit, but as an organization I get to inspire more people,” Green said. “I want to work with anyone to find ways to get more things like this going.”

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