LIHUE — When it comes time for Aaliyah Keala Nero’s birthday, she’s all about gift cards. But the 11-year-old Nero isn’t buying things for herself.
Every year she uses gift cards donated by the community to lift the spirits of keiki in need.
“It feels great because you get to help kids that don’t have what we have,” Nero said. “You make them have a great day.”
For the third straight year, Nero is putting out the call for $25 gift cards from any store on Kauai. Her goal is to collect 100 to distribute on Dec. 17 at Kukui Grove Center.
“Take a load off a parent who is trying to bounce back and make a child smile this Christmas,” said Stephanie Shinno, Nero’s mom. “We are humbled to be able to be a vehicle and voice to help kids in need. They can use it for basic necessities as well.”
The idea sparked in 2012 when Nero and her family spent time in the women’s shelter. They received a $25 gift card from an anonymous person during that time, and the memory stuck with Nero.
As the family got back on its feet, Nero decided to start a foundation to help other kids going through similar situations. She named it Keala’s Big Sister Club.
Nero’s 2016 gift card giveaway goal was 50, and she distributed 29 gift cards on that December day.
The 2015 gift card giveaway saw seven cards distributed to island keiki.
Though the plan is to distribute all of the cards Nero collects at the Dec. 17 giveaway this year, the back-up plan is to drop off the extras at the Kauai YMCA.
“(That) is a tribute of giving back to when we received our very own gift cards back in 2012 at the YMCA women’s shelter for domestic violence survivors,” Shinno said.
More info or to donate: 631-1644 or firstname.lastname@example.org