LIHU‘E — Jan and Arabella Dullaga, students at the Kapa‘a Elementary School, guarded their stash of yellow shopping bags Saturday while catching their breath and waiting on lunch at the Back to School Bash at Kukui Grove Center.
“We have to have more than one,” said Arabella, anticipating the Aug. 4 return to classes. “They said there were different things in the different bags, so we had to get several bags so we can combine and share.”
The yellow shopping bags were remnants of a previous Back to School event, presented by the Garden Island Federal Credit Union, following the pre-registration selling out of 2,000 backpacks.
“We were scrambling for more school supplies,” said Melissa McFerrin-Warrack of Kukui Grove Center.
“Garden Island FCU also came up with an additional 200 shopping bags (purple ones) that we put various school supplies in after we finished packing the giveaway backpacks. We were lucky because a lot of people couldn’t be here physically because of the COVID-19, but were kind enough to drop off materials we could distribute.”
Karen Ono, volunteering from the Kaua‘i Board of Realtors, said the station where the shopping bags were picked up was to accommodate those people who were greeted with the sold-out notice when trying to register for backpacks. Despite that, Ono said she was surprised at how happy the keiki were to receive something.
“This might not have been the backpacks,” Ono said. “But we have a lot of good things available here.”
This year’s Back to School Bash, the sixth one, was unlike any of the previous events, as organizers and volunteers grappled not only with the demand for school supplies, but being in compliance with the various health and safety guidelines established after the novel coronavirus touched Hawai‘i.
“Everyone (volunteers) needs to be temperature-screened,” said Nellie Caberto, assisting from the state Department of Education office. “If anyone has a reading 99 degrees and higher, we recommend they go home.”
Temperature screenings and other social-distancing guidelines were seen at the various tenants offering extra activities, as Keoni Kelekoma of Bubbah’s Toy Box sanitized the basketball between each participant in a basketball shooting contest, and Ainofea kept a vigil on social distancing between fishers at the fishpond set up next to Premier Martial Arts, where participants were sent scurrying to refill the sanitizer that greeted shoppers outside the studio offering summer specials.
Other tenants offered shoppers special back-to-school bargains, such as Deja Vu Surf Hawai‘i offering additional premiums with the purchase of HydroFlasks, and Jeans Warehouse offering shoppers an opportunity to win free Jeans Warehouse clothing each month for a year.
The Back to School Bash was presented by KGC and Kaua‘i’s federal credit unions that include Garden Island FCU, Gather FCU, McBryde FCU, Kaua‘i Teachers FCU and Kaua‘i Government Employees FCU.
Other community partners include the Hawai‘i USA FCU, Kaua‘i Board of Realtors, Kaua‘i Island Utility Cooperative, state DOE Kaua‘i Complex Area, Layton Construction, Wilcox Health, Street Image, Cool It Kaua‘i, Sign Art, Aqua Engineers, KQNG Radio Group, The Garden Island and Midweek, and Earthworks Pacific.
Additional partnerships formed with Aloha Freight Forwarders, Deli & Bread Connection, Garden Isle Disposal, Hawaiian Building Maintenance, Kaua‘i Society of Artists, Kim Chee No. 9, Pyramid Insurance, USBorne Books & More, and Wayne Medeiros Inc.
The Kaua‘i DOE academic calendar starts Aug. 3 when teachers report to school. Students report to school starting Aug. 4.
Dennis Fujimoto, staff writer and photographer, can be reached at 245-0453 or email@example.com.