Giving back through helping

PUHI — If Charlmaine Bulosan of the Kaua‘i Filipino Community Council had not volunteered with the Hawai‘i Foodbank Kaua‘i Branch, the Saturday Kokua No Ka ‘Ohana food distribution at the Kaua‘i Philippine Cultural Center might not have happened.

“That was the turning point,” Charlmaine said. “I went to help when the Hawai‘i Foodbank Kaua‘i Branch did its first Kokua No Ka ‘Ohana distribution at the Vidinha Stadium parking lot, and after experiencing the impact on both the recipients and volunteers, we had to do this.”

The KFCC, host of the annual Miss Kaua‘i Filipina Scholarship Pageant, partnered with the Hawai‘i Foodbank Kaua‘i Branch to distribute nearly 400 packages of food on an appointment basis at the Kaua‘i Philippine Cultural Center that was only enjoying its second community event, the first being as a site for the county’s Summer Fun program coordinated through the Department of Parks and Recreation.

Originally planned for 300 families, the distribution took off.

“We have 385 appointments and more than 65 volunteers,” Bulosan said. “And the phone is still ringing.”

Families went through the drive-thru, no-contact pickup after being registered by the reigning Miss Kaua‘i Filipina Tiffany Sagucio, who normally volunteers at the Hawai‘i Foodbank Kaua‘i Branch events in a more labor-intensive role.

“We kept getting more food coming in,” said Marynel Valenzuela of Inkspot Printing, who coordinated the event with Bulosan.

“We were late getting the first cars through because there is so much food. Today’s package included the aloha box (named the Kokua No Ka ‘Ohana box packed by Y. Hata &Co.) containing ground beef, bone-in chicken thighs, vegetable blends, bags of apples, potatoes, onions, eggs, milk, pasta, canned goods and saimin.”

Bulosan said the distribution was more than just getting food to people in the community. The event served as a way for the community groups to give back to the community that supports them.

“Before the COVID-19 pandemic hit, we were out in the community asking for help,” Bulosan said. “Some of the groups were so small in membership, but they needed help just as much as the larger groups. Now that this coronavirus crisis has us all being affected, and this is something we can do to help, to give back to everyone who supported us.”

During an Aug. 30 newscast, KITV reported that Filipinos makes up a large number of the people battling COVID-19 on the frontlines, and the essential workers who cannot do their work from home despite the shutdown.

Dr. Lyla Prather, president elect of the Philippine Medical Association of Hawai‘i, said in addition to the Filipinos being placed at higher risks because of their jobs, Filipinos have the second-worst COVID-19 percentage incidence, following Pacific Islanders.

A community food distribution spearheaded by the Kaua‘i football officials from the Kaua‘i Officials Association, in partnership with the Kaua‘i Independent Food Bank, was scheduled for 300 packages of food to be distributed from the Kaumakani Saturday, at the parking lot fronting the Aloha Sweet Delites shop.

The Hawai‘i Foodbank Kaua‘i Branch will host its next Kokua No Ka ‘Ohana pop-up food distribution on Thursday at St. Raphael Church in Koloa, from 10 a.m. to noon. Appointments are required.

The Kaua‘i Independent Food Bank, in partnership with The Shops at Kukui‘ula, will be hosting a community distribution Thursday from 3 p.m. at The Shops at Kukui‘ula parking lot.

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

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