Back to School bash helps thousands

LIHUE — Back to school meant a lot of different things were going on Saturday at the third annual Back to School Bash at Kukui Grove Center.

“This is our first time coming to the bash,” said Irie Palakiko who waited patiently for the start of registration. “The kids wanted to come because Moana is going to be here. We got up early and were here at 6:30 a.m.”

The Showtime Characters were just part of the activities that drew scores of families to Kukui Grove.

“Moana and Maui will be here, and instead of Sponge Bob, we have the Minions,” said Brenda Biehler of Showtime Characters. Between appearances, Biehler and her family created balloon characters for the seemingly unending line of people.

Ashley Relacion was with several families waiting in the registration line that snaked around the Ross Dress for Less Building, joining several thousand people waiting to receive some of the 1,800 bags of school supplies.

“It takes time, but it is worth it because things are getting expensive,” Relacion said.

Kaulana Finn of the Big Brothers Big Sisters program said CEO Dennis Brown would’ve loved to have been at the event.

“Anytime you have a lot of people, it’s fun,” Finn said. “We went through several containers of helium — people love the balloons — and we had enough treats so we didn’t run out.”

On a related area, Kumu’s Cupboard, the free resource center for teachers and educators, was also bristling with activity.

Sharon Lasker, a board member and co-founder of Kumu’s Cupboard was busy with yet another project for which she is the coordinator — the Backpack Brigade, which provides school supplies to children recommended through Child and Family Services.

“I was getting worried,” said Johnette Chun, whose stop to drop off supplies coincide with a visit by Mayor Bernard Carvalho Jr. “The county employees committed to helping 25 children, and when I checked last week, we had less than 10 children taken care of. But everyone came through. And they were very creative in what they got for the children.”

Lasker said they received orders for a handful of children late, but with the activity taking place, should be able to accomodate most of the needs. Saturday was the final day for dropping off items for the Backpack Brigade.

Wade Lord, Kukui Grove general manager, was pleased with the turnout and support.

“We can’t pull off events like this without help,” Lord said. “We in business sometimes compete with each other, but each one of the sponsors stopped by to contribute so we could go out and get the supplies that will go to more than 1,500 children for free.”

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