The Garden Island/Zonta Club of Kauai Foundation Christmas Fund was able to bring a brighter Christmas to hundreds of families this year, thanks to generous donations that came from throughout the island.
Since this year’s campaign began the day after Thanksgiving, hundreds of donations were received, ranging from a few dollars to thousands of dollars. They came from children who gave up their savings. They came from dancers who performed and contributed the proceeds from the show. They came from restaurants asking customers to pitch in. They came from lawyers on the Mainland and moms on Kauai, and they came from folks donating instead of buying Christmas gifts for each other.
One woman stopped off with a $200 check Thursday and said she kept meaning to send in her donation but never found the time, so she just decided to swing by TGI’s office.
“Merry Christmas,” she said.
It was an inspiring Christmas season that saw the generosity of Kauai at its very best. Last year, the fund drive received a record $32,000. While the final contributions haven’t been tallied yet, the campaign was in the $25,000 range and climbing.
What makes this success story even more special is that this year’s campaign was dedicated to Jean Holmes, who helped establish the fund in the 1980s when she was TGI’s editor. Holmes, much beloved on Kauai for her passion and community commitment, passed away earlier this year. She was a strong advocate for the Christmas Fund.
“She really believed in it, ” said Dimples Kano, The Zonta Club of Kauai Foundation chair.
Kano told TGI that donations have been coming in steadily this season. Each day, she was pleased to see many checks waiting in the mail. The response from the community, Kano said, has been a delight and a boost to her spirits.
“It’s brought a lot of happiness to families in need,” she said.
Here’s how it worked.
Starting the day after Thanksgiving and through Christmas Eve, The Garden Island shared daily stories about families and individuals facing hardships and who would appreciate a little holiday help. The situations described were real. The names were not.
The Garden Island/Zonta Club Christmas Fund was created to help people in need during the holidays. Each donated dollar is accounted for and meticulously recorded. There are no administrators collecting salaries. Volunteers run the show.
This year, Zonta received more than 200 applications for help from nine social services agencies representing families, couples and individuals.
Agencies included the Kauai Economic Opportunity, Hale Kipa, Love the Journey, Child and Family Services, Community Services for Developmental Disabilities, Kauai Adult Day Care, YWCA Shelter, Easter Seals and County of Kauai, Agency on Elderly Affairs.
Donations to the Christmas Fund are distributed by Zonta Club members, who purchase gift certificates at local stores to make wishes come true.
The rest is up to you, the people. And this year, as always, you came through.
“Mahalo to the generous donors,” said Marge Akana, Zonta Club treasurer.
The Zonta Club of Kauai Foundation, by the way, accepts donations year-round. It just asks that gifts be marked for the Christmas Fund or scholarship.
Only monetary donations are accepted. Checks payable to Zonta Club of Kauai Foundation can be mailed to P.O. Box 3032, Lihue, HI 96766.
Zonta’s annual major fundraiser for student scholarships, Eat Desert First, will be in February.
This is supposed to be the final year of overseeing the Christmas Fund for the 91-year-old Dimples. She is the one who often hears the stories of boys and girls and the delight on their faces Christmas morning when they open gifts they might not otherwise have received if not for the donations to the fund.
When asked by TGI whether she might not come back one more year, she just smiled.