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Volunteers key to Kokua

  • Dennis Fujimoto / The Garden Island

    Lee Remigio of the Hawai‘i Foodbank Kaua‘i Branch, right, goes to check on traffic Thursday during the Kokua No Ka ‘Ohana food distribution at the Bryan J. Baptiste Sports Complex in Kapa‘a.

  • Dennis Fujimoto / The Garden Island

    Diane Keeler, a Hawai‘i Foodbank Kaua‘i Branch board member, right, opens a patron’s door Thursday as Sonia and Eddie Topenio prepare to load food packages during the Kokua No Ka ‘Ohana food distribution at the Bryan J. Baptiste Sports Complex in Kapa‘a.

  • Dennis Fujimoto / The Garden Island

    Diane Keeler, a Hawai‘i Foodbank Kaua‘i Branch board member, left, releases the hatchback, Thursday as Sonia and Eddie Topenio load food in the drive-thru Kokua No Ka ‘Ohana distribution at Bryan J. Baptiste Sports Complex in Kapa‘a.

  • Dennis Fujimoto / The Garden Island

    Tish Ruiz and Lee Remigio of the Hawai‘i Foodbank Kaua‘i Branch survey distribution lanes Thursday before releasing more cars during the Kokua No Ka ‘Ohana food distribution at Bryan J. Baptiste Sports Complex in Kapa‘a.

  • Dennis Fujimoto / The Garden Island

    Patrick Ono, left, a Hawai‘i Foodbank Kaua‘i Branch board member, loads food onto a pickup truck Thursday during the Kokua No Ka ‘Ohana distribution at Bryan J. Baptiste Sports Complex in Kapa‘a.

  • Dennis Fujimoto / The Garden Island

    Patrick Ono, a volunteer from Matson Navigation, left, watches as Tim Takeshita of Enterprise Rent A Car loads a patron’s car with food Thursday during the Kokua No Ka ‘Ohana distribution presented by the Hawai‘i Foodbank Kaua‘i Branch at the Bryan J. Baptiste Sports Complex in Kapa‘a.

KAPA‘A — Traffic in and around the Bryan J. Baptiste Sports Complex flowed smoothly Thursday during the Hawai‘i Foodbank Kaua‘i Branch Kokua No Ka ‘Ohana drive-thru food distribution.

“We didn’t need the help of Kaua‘i Police Department this time,” said Wes Perreira, the Hawai‘i Foodbank Kaua‘i Branch manager. “The key is to keep everything moving quickly. And the appointment system works.”

Appointments are already beyond the 300-package amount for the distribution taking place Saturday from 10 a.m. at the Kaua‘i Philippine Cultural Center in Puhi, a first for the Kaua‘i Filipino Community Council and the Hawai‘i Foodbank Kaua‘i Branch under its Kokua No Ka ‘Ohana pop-up food distribution program.

“This is the KFCC’s first time doing a distribution,” Perreira said. “They’re getting pretty excited.”

Marynel Valenzuela was volunteering at the Kapa‘a distribution to get a feel for the upcoming Saturday distribution.

“Yeah, we had 300 appointments within a day of opening the registration,” Valenzuela said. “This is going to be exciting.”

Volunteers are key to the success of the Kokua No Ka ‘Ohana pop-up distributions that started in late September and will continue through Nov. 19, said Lee Remigio, operations manager at the Hawai‘i Foodbank Kaua‘i Branch.

“You’ve made this possible,” Remigio told the volunteers during the final briefing before the waiting cars were released into the distribution area.

“Since March, the Hawai‘i Foodbank has distributed more than 1.5 million pounds of food. This compares with last year when we put out 1.6 million pounds of food for the entire year,” Remigio said.

“During Kokua No Ka ‘Ohana pop-up food distributions, we average between 15 to 16,000 pounds of food. We’re about halfway through this year’s program, and already that amounts to about 60,000 pounds of food.”

Perreira said the weight amounts to about 500 packages of food that, for Thursday, included a Kokua No Ka ‘Ohana box packed by Y. Hata and Co. containing ground beef, bone-in chicken thighs, vegetable blends and Kings Hawaiian Sweet Rolls. The drive-thru recipients also received cases of saimin, eggs, and bags of fresh apples.

“This is pretty good,” said Earl Kashiwagi of Esaki’s Produce, who watched the line of cars flow through the parking lot. “We were out there this morning with a load of apples. It’s so good they are able to use some of their grant monies to help us out, too.”

Patrick Ono, a Hawai‘i Foodbank Kaua‘i Branch board member, thanked Perreira and the staff of the Hawai‘i Foodbank Kaua‘i Branch.

“This is an opportunity you provide for volunteers to give back to the community,” Ono said. “Everyone is affected by this pandemic, and people are looking for ways to help. People are hurting for food, and this Kokua No Ka ‘Ohana helps people keep food on the table and gives people a chance to help each other.”

Following the Saturday distribution at the Kaua‘i Philippine Cultural Center, the Kokua No Ka ‘Ohana food distribution moves to the St. Raphael Church in Koloa on Thursday from 10 a.m. to noon. Appointments are required for food pickup.

Info: 482-2224

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Dennis Fujimoto, staff writer can be reached at 245-0453 or dfujimoto@thegardenisland.com.

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