Trint Dabin-Texeira is 5 years old. He earns money by doing chores around the house and helping his mom.
But he doesn’t do it to buy things for himself.
“I save all my money for the kids,” he said.
Trint doesn’t even know those kids. He’s never met them. He likely never will. They live thousands of miles away.
That’s not important to him. What matters to this Kapahi keiki is that he does what he can to bring a little joy to the lives of others.
“It’s nice if other kids are happy when they open my gifts,” Trint said in a phone interview with The Garden Island.
No doubt, they will be.
Trint and his mom, Tehani Dabin, delivered some 60 shoeboxes packed with presents to Operation Christmas Child Monday at Breath of Life Ministries.
Their contribution helped push the number of shoeboxes for this year’s Kauai drive to 3,162, a record that broke last’s mark of 2,957.
The Christian program through Samaritan’s Purse ships millions of shoeboxes to kids ages 2 to 14 in countries like Philippines, Peru and Indonesia. Those boxes contain an array of gifts, including stuffed animals, toy cars, dolls, balls, flashlights, school supplies, hygiene items, hats and clothes.
They go to kids who have little and for some that have never received a gift.
Trint wants to change that.
Tehani Dabin said her son started giving to others and filling OCC shoeboxes when he was 2 years old. Yep, just 2 years old and he was thinking about others.
The preschooler has kept at it.
“He really enjoys it,” Tehani said.
Throughout the year, he saves money, and even some of his own presents, for OCC. His mom asks him, “So, Trint, give me a count. How many boxes do you want to do?”
Trint isn’t bashful. He sets the bar high.
“He gives me the count and we try to hit it,” she said.
They do more than hit it. They go over.
This year, of the 66 shoeboxes he and his mom delivered, he filled 30 of them himself. He used his own money. He gave up his own presents.
“He does look forward to filling those boxes throughout the entire year,” his mom said. “All year long that’s all he talks about.”
“It really makes things so much nicer,” she added. “Trint wants to know when he can start getting these boxes to you. He really is all for it.”
Not many adults are willing to do as much.
His mom calls family and friends and asks if they want to fill a shoebox.
“Hey, do you want to help with Trint? He’s doing OCC this year. Are you willing to help out his count?”
They are, and the response keeps growing.
“When they’re ready to be picked up, we pick them up,”she said.
When it’s time to load the boxes for delivery to OCC, Trint insists on helping carry them to the car. And from the car, inside.
His appearance Monday delighted the OCC volunteers. Someone let out a whoop of joy when recounting Trint’s kindness and how one so young could set an example for an island.
He even shares his cause with his friends.
“We do this thing for the little kids, for the kids who don’t have as much toys as we do,” he says.
For a 5-year-old, he shows the wisdom of Solomon.
“Trint, he knows he has a lot,” his mom said. “Some kids don’t have much, so he wants to give to other kids who don’t have that much toys.”
Her son, she said, has found it’s nice to give. He’s discovered it feels good to share.
And already, he’s talking about next year’s shoebox drive. His early goal? A lofty 200 boxes.
Tehani Dabin, rather than worry he might be shooting too high and headed for disappointment, is pleased with her son’s ambition.
“It’s really awesome,” she said. “He wants to bring happiness to as many as he can.”
Oftentimes when they go to the store, Trint considers if he wants to pick out something for himself, or something for an OCC shoebox bound for a boy or girl far away.
He opts for the shoebox.
He carefully deposits coins and dollar into his savings account, so he can later buy gifts he’s sure a child would like. Maybe crayons. A small toy car. A ball. Cards.
“He picks and he chooses,” his mom said.
Sometimes, if he does buy a toy for himself, he leaves it wrapped and saves it for a shoebox.
“I didn’t open this toy,” he says. “Can I put it in Operation Christmas Child?”
Trint, Tehani Dabin said, recognizes he has a lot of stuff and is able to go to fun places like Disneyland. He recognizes not every children has a room of toys and can travel to faraway places.
Trint has the ability to help others, so he does.
“I don’t have to push it. He wants to do it,” his mom said. “If you can help somebody else, that’s what you need to do.”
Her son has already taken that lesson to heart.
Tehani Dabin said her son doesn’t do it for recognition or praise. He never says to his ohana, “looks at me.” He just wants other kids to be happy and is troubled when they aren’t.
Trint, asked by TGI why he saves his money for shoebox gifts, sums it up with a few words.
“I do it for the kids, to help the kids,” he said.
Not surprisingly, at the end of his interview with TGI, Trint ends the conversation with two words: