Giving locally makes community impact

  • Jessica Else/The Garden Island

    Craig LaVelle, of Kapaa, holds up the $150 money order he’s donating to Zonta Christmas Fund.

LIHUE — Stories of people needing just a little extra help this holiday season have been running in The Garden Island newspaper; stories of shut-ins needing home repairs, troubled teenagers who could use some clothes, single parents who need a little cash to make rent.

It’s a way for The Garden Island/Zonta Club Christmas Fund to bring some holiday cheer and relief for people in need on Kauai, and for Craig LaVelle, of Kapaa, stories about kids in foster care hit closest to home.

“Just getting a gift around this time of year, it’s good,” LaVelle said Tuesday when he dropped of a $150 donation for the Zonta Club Christmas Fund at the TGI office. “Foster kids, they’re just kind of lost in the cracks, this’ll help.”

LaVelle spends half of the year on Kauai and half of the year in Bellingham, Washington, where he focuses on donating to causes that deal with protecting the world’s natural resources.

Last year he was looking for a way to donate to local charities on Kauai and he read about the Zonta Christmas Fund. He donated right away and doubled his donation for the 2018 season.

“I’m a repeat,” he said. “I like that with this, you’re giving locally. It’s my way of doing whatever I can do.”

Isabella, for instance, is a single mother struggling to make ends meet. She works long nights at two waitressing jobs to support herself and her daughter. While normally able to scrape by, this year her daughter has been having trouble at school and has had run-ins with the police. This has caused Isabella to have to reduce her work hours and has had their electricity turned off due to their inability to pay. This desperate family would benefit greatly from assistance with their utility bills and school clothes and supplies.

Don is an elderly person who has been receiving meals on wheels for many years. He has a problem walking, but is thoughtful and always comes out to receive his meal when the driver comes to deliver food. He is polite and soft spoke and grateful for the hot lunch and greeting from the driver. A new walker that can aid him in moving around would be a good gift.

The Garden Island shares daily stories 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.

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 Dimples Kano, 93, 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 assistance.

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.

Anyone who donates $50 or more is welcome to have their picture in TGI. Please swing by our Lihue office between 10 a.m.and 3 p.m. Monday to Friday. If you know of any fundraiser for the Christmas Fund, let us know and we’ll spread the word.

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

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