First Strings go out

  • Dennis Fujimoto / The Garden Island

    Kapa‘a High School graduating seniors Leilia Panui and Kaden Baliaris, center, celebrate their new Kala soprano ukulele Friday that were distributed by the Strings of Joy committee, including Pua Olena Ku‘ulei, Mahealani, Maile Bryan, Eli Smart, Jordy Fleming, Sami Live, and Kirk and Tora Smart of Hanalei Strings.

KAPA‘A — “You were supposed to stop her,” said Kirk Smart of Hanalei Strings. “Not encourage her.”

“This is what happens when you have a crazy idea from a crazy lady,” said Maile Bryan Friday when members of the Strings of Joy committee converged at Kapa‘a High School outside the Bernice Hundley Gymnasium to distribute the first of 700 Kala soprano ‘ukulele for graduating high-school seniors.

The task was made possible after the Strings of Joy committee that included a partnership with Kaua‘i Leaders Against Suicide (Life’s Bridges), ‘Oli ‘Oli Productions, Kala Brand Music Co., and CG Custom Prints that raised $40,000 from more than 170 individuals and sponsors to acquire the Kala brand instruments — one for each of the 700 seniors graduating from the public high schools, Island School and the charter schools.

“We want to congratulate you on your accomplishment,” states a letter accompanying the musical instrument. “You deserve recognition for your hard work, and we want you to know that we are proud of you, admire you, and are rooting for you in the next chapter in your life. The Class of 2020 will be remembered as one that ‘crossed the finish line’ during one of the most unusual times our world has ever seen. In spite of everything happening due to COVID-19, you all deserve to be recognized for your accomplishment.”

Despite reaching the goal of being able to pay for all the seniors’ instruments, Bryan said there is still a little fundraising going on.

“The ‘ukulele all came in boxes,” said Tora Smart of Hanalei Strings. “But Maile would not hear of letting the seniors have the instruments in boxes. She said we needed cases.”

The fundraising is ongoing to help cover the costs of the gig bags that protect instruments being handed out.

Friday’s distribution targeted the 250 seniors making the walk at Kapa‘a High School.

Tora Smart said another distribution will take place Friday night at the historic Waimea Theatre for graduates from Waimea High School.

A final distribution will take place Saturday morning from 10 a.m. to noon in front of the Bandwagon facility at Kukui Grove Center. This distribution will target students graduating from Kaua‘i High School, Island School, and some of the charter schools.

Major sponsors leading the Strings of Joy fundraising effort include the Payton-Kekaialoha Bryan-Chung Memorial, ‘Aina Ho‘okupu O Kilauea, Wa‘alani Enterprises, Earthworks Pacific Inc., and The Smart ‘Ohana.

  1. Where to donate July 28, 2020 6:57 am Reply

    How/where can people donate?

  2. Lillikoi July 28, 2020 12:56 pm Reply

    Would have been nice if the students were told about this.

  3. Rev Dr Malama July 29, 2020 9:27 am Reply

    So happy to read this good news.
    A win win for everyone!
    Mahalo to Tora and Hanalei Strings are to be congratulated too!!!!

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