Great gifts: A bike, groceries, car repairs

Dimples Kano, the 93-year-old woman who is the heart and soul of The Garden Island/Zonta Club Christmas Fund, said it’s been busy since the fund kicked off its annual drive the day after Thanksgiving.

She’s received many phone calls from those asking how they can help the people whose stories they read in TGI. One family, for instance, had a hope to go out for pizza and a movie this Christmas season. In response, a business contacted Kano about providing the family with movie passes.

“It’s been wonderful, the response,” Kano said. “Each year, people reach out to help others in need.”

The Garden Island shares daily through Christmas Eve about real people (we don’t use their real names) facing challenges and who would appreciate a little help through The Garden Island/Zonta Christmas Fund.

One such person is Harold. The 57-year-old came to Kauai for a job opportunity. He speaks little English, so when the job ended, he didn’t know what to do and did not have enough money to return home. Harold was living in the brush on the North Shore when his belongings were destroyed by the April floods. He was befriended by a lady who gave him a tiny cottage to live in, and she allowed him to stay on her property as long as he helped with the yard work. For Christmas, Harold could use a bicycle.

Kanani had a mental breakdown six years ago and has since been counseled and takes medication for depression and anxiety. Today, with ongoing treatment, her bubbly personality is beginning to shine again.

She lives on a fixed income and although she has subsidized housing, her expenses exceed her income and she finds herself low on food at the end of each month.

In addition, she recently had car trouble and can’t afford to pay for the repairs. Kanani would have a happy holiday if someone would repair her car and if she received a bag of groceries for Christmas.

In the past two years, the fund has raised more than $50,000, and every dollar has gone toward bringing joy to those who otherwise would likely go without anything on Christmas.

This program has been around since the 1980s and is headed up by Kano, who has led it for nearly two decades and refuses to retire because she loves the happiness it brings to others.

This year, about 400 families applied for help through the fund.

Donations to the Christmas Fund are used by Zonta Club members to purchase local gift certificates that are in turn distributed via social service agencies to families in December.

Checks, payable to Zonta Club of Kauai Foundation, can be mailed to P.O. Box 3032, Lihue, HI 96766. For further information, call Kano at 822-4517.

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