KAPA‘A — Chris Machorek, the general manager for the Sheraton Kaua‘i at Coconut Beach, said the silver lining in this COVID-19 pandemic is how people all come together to help each other.
Machorek was serving Thanksgiving meals to Kaua‘i’s first responders, Thursday, greeting each of the Kaua‘i Fire Department, Kaua‘i Police Department, American Medical Response responders who swung by the Waipouli hotel to pick up a free to-go meal for Thanksgiving.
“The hotel isn’t doing anything special,” said Barbara Gusman of the hotel’s Sales Department who was volunteering with the East Kaua‘i Lions Club at the Kapa‘a Interfaith Association’s Thanksgiving Lunch at the All Saints Episcopal Church. “We are just doing something for our in-house guests. We still have the Hawai‘i National Guard staying at the hotel, and we extended our hospitality to Kaua‘i first responders who are working, today. This is something we’ve done for a while.”
The Kapa‘a Interfaith Association’s meal included 1,500 planned meals prepared by Mark’s Place and Contemporary Flavors Catering at two different sites to accommodate the COVID-19 rules and guidelines of face masks required, no large crowds, and social distancing.
“We have orders for more than 710 meals for home deliveries that are being worked on at the Kapa‘a Hongwanji Mission,” said Mary Margaret Smith, the KIA event co-chair. “Sarah Rodgers hasn’t done this before, but she’s in charge of the home deliveries that will go out from Lihu‘e to Anahola with 37 sets of volunteer drivers. We also have 800 meals being served either as a walk-up and go, or drive-through at the All Saints Gym.”
The meals for home deliveries were also accompanied by a food package containing enough food to go beyond Thanksgiving, the materials being donated by the Kaua‘i Independent Food Bank.
“These people can’t get around,” said Kelvin Moniz, the Kaua‘i Independent Food Bank executive director who spent one of his vacation days packaging the food parcel. “This is not much, but it should help them out for a couple of days.”
Mahea Kaui and her daughter Tiani Kaui stopped their pickup between the two sites.
“Do you need a meal?” Tiani asked an individual walking to the Waikaea Boat Ramp, or Lihi Park. “How about some water to go with the meal?”
Mahea said Tiani was on her way to Anini Beach Park homeless encampment with 120 meals prepared by Ho‘omana and Rowena Pangan.
“Tiani is part of the Ho‘omana board and on the way to Anini, there are all these places where the homeless are,” Mahea said. “Tiani even used her own money to get diapers and other items for the many keiki that are at Anini. And, she’s even doing the stops along the way like this at Lihi Park. There’s another spot near the Kapa‘a Swimming Pool, the St Catherine Cemetery, and more.”
Tiani said her 120 meals were part of the 320 meals Ho‘omana prepared for Thanksgiving.
“Are you sure you don’t need one, uncle?” the Kapa‘a High School girls basketball player asked.
Over at the Kaua‘i Bus stop fronting the Kapa‘a Shopping Center, a couple enjoyed their meal sheltered from the rains that belted the area during the lunch service.
“No, we’re okay,” the man said. “This one is a private party. Someone stopped by and dropped off the plates.”
Jennifer Mann and her son Sean Padin were safe from the rain under the tarp outside the All Saints Episcopal Church social hall where a short interfaith service prefaced the meal giveaway.
“They just moved here from Honolulu,” a member of the audience said. “They don’t know too many people, and they need to feel special.”
Mann said they moved here in July, and don’t even have a car, accepting a plate from volunteer Happy Wakuta for herself and her son.
“What are you most grateful for?” Wakuta asked while waiting on the orders to come through the Mark’s Place plating line.
The answer sprouted from the line of waiting people — “Life!”