PORT ALLEN — Autism awareness received a boost on Kaua‘i thanks to a $1,250 donation from the staff at Kaua‘i Island Brewing Company, who have been stashing cash in a lucky-cat statue that sits at the brewery entrance in Port Allen.
For the past nine years, employees at Kaua‘i Island Brewing Company have been putting spare change into their maneki neko, or “lucky cat,” that sits at the brewery entrance to bring good fortune for their workday.
The years and money stacked up, and recently KIB owners Brett and Janice Larson noticed it was full. So, they counted up the cash and discovered they had $950 in the lucky cat.
Brewery staff and owners all pitched in a bit more money and put together a total donation of $1,250, which they decided to give to the autism awareness and support group Be the Voice, started by the Kaua‘i family of Frank and Shana Cruz.
KIB gave the Cruz ‘ohana the donation earlier this month. In 2016, Shana Cruz started Be the Voice after enduring the obstacles of having two children with autism. Cruz said she wants to change the labels of autism and bring hope and support to other families who may be going through the same thing.
With the help and support of the community, she is able to bring more resources to the island, where resources are limited, she said. April is Autism Awareness Month, and the Cruz ‘ohana is gearing up for activities that will bring more autism awareness and resources to the island.