LIHUE — Aaliyah Keala Nero gave away nearly 29 gift cards to kids in need on Kauai on Dec. 18 for her annual birthday service project, more than doubling the number of gift cards she gave away last year.
Though she didn’t reach her goal of giving away 50 $25 gift cards, the 11-year-old is pleased she surpassed last year’s seven.
“I want to say mahalo,” Keala said.
The gift cards to local stores are meant to help kids get school supplies, clothing and food.
The idea came from Keala and her family’s time in the women’s shelter in 2012 when she received a $25 gift card from an anonymous person. The family spent two months in the shelter, but the memory stuck with Keala.
Last year, she started the gift card giveaway through her foundation, Keala’s Big Sister Club, in order to positively impact the island’s keiki. The goal is for community members to buy a $25 gift card
“I want to give back because it felt good to get that $25 gift card,” Keala said.
Among the donors are Kailee Mu, San Henline, Mike Mazzoli, Ms. Watarai from Wilcox School, Ron Wood, Carol Surratt, Tore Wistrom, Ginger and Derek Hudson, the Rev. Dr. Malama and the Ishii Family.
“We are so grateful for everyone’s help,” said Stephanie Shinno, Keala’s mom. “It makes her happy she could make someone smile this Christmas season.”