Finding a way to rescue Christmas

  • Dennis Fujimoto/The Garden Island

    Kekaha Credit Union’s Ursuline Munar, Brianni Higashi and LeAnn Ishii show off their Salvation Army Angel Tree that still has wishes waiting to come true, Tuesday.

  • Dennis Fujimoto/The Garden Island

    Veronica Ramson accepts her food package from Salvation Army volunteers JoAnn Haluapo and Cynthia Pelletier, Tuesday at the Lihu‘e Corps office.

  • Dennis Fujimoto/The Garden Island

    Cristiano Keoho, the grandson of The Salvation Army Captain Shawn Keoho, shuffles past the Salvation Army van in his holiday attire.

  • Dennis Fujimoto/The Garden Island

    The Salvation Army’s Zarah Becerra and Capt. Shawn Keoho process some of the Toys for Tots collection, Tuesday at the Lihu‘e Corps.

LIHU‘E — “There is still time,” said The Salvation Army Captain Shawn Keoho of the Lihu‘e Corps. “We’re still accepting applications for holiday aid — both online, and in person.”

Contributions and donations are also being done online, especially this year when the COVID-19 pandemic has severely limited the visibility of Salvation Army red kettles, Angel Trees, and other aid stations.

“For some people, online is difficult,” said Ursuline Munar, manager of the Kekaha Credit Union where one of the three Angel Trees are set up. “Individuals can do this online — from viewing and ordering from the Angel Tree store. But, there is no substitute for the human touch, and people who have difficulty with the online technology come in and pick their wishes in person.”

But time is running out because Munar said the tree will be done with by Thursday. Deadline for the Angel Tree set up at Kaua‘i Crossfit is also Thursday, leaving the Angel Tree at the Walmart store in Lihu‘e the sole tree until Dec. 16.

In a holiday season unlike any other in recent times, The Salvation Army Hawaiian &Pacific Islands made a plea for donations and volunteer support from Hawai‘i’s businesses and the public to help those in need this holiday season with the Rescue Christmas campaign headlined by Central Pacific Bank Foundation and iHeartMEDIA Honolulu.

“We humbly ask Hawai‘i’s businesses and the public to join with us to Rescue Christmas for those in need,” said Major Jeff Martin, Divisional Leader for The Salvation Army Hawaiian &Pacific Islands Division. “We are seeking monetary and in-kind donations as well as volunteers. Due to the pandemic, we have 75 percent fewer kettles out this year in Hawai‘i. Volunteer bell ringers are particularly needed to help us keep Red Kettles out in communities as much as possible. It’s important to remember that Red Kettle and Angel Tree donations stay in the communities where they are donated. There are also various ways to donate online, allowing the community to raise funds not only for Christmas gifts for keiki and kupuna, but also to provide support for social service programs and those in need throughout the year.”

Additional partners joining the circle of rescue include Hawaiian Electric Industries and Salem Media Group, Ko Olina Resort also donated $10,000 to rescue Thanksgiving for those in need in West O‘ahu via The Salvation Army’s Kroc Center Hawai‘i, states a release from The Salvation Army.

Capt. Keoho did her own personal rescue just days before Thanksgiving when her daughter on the mainland suffered a medical emergency that took the Captain to the mainland and returning to the travel quarantine that expired just a day before the launch of the Salvation Army’s holiday help campaign.

“It’s good to have them back here,” Capt. Keoho said, watching her grandson Cristiano jingle shuffle past the decorated Salvation Army van in his holiday attire, including over-sized jingly boots. “It’s Christmas, even if there aren’t that many Red Kettle bells, ringing.”

During the Christmas of 2019, there were more than 30,000 gifts contributed through the Angel Tree program in Hawai‘i. With the ongoing pandemic, there are several ways to support the program, including selecting traditional angel tags from physical Angel Trees (Walmart Lihu‘e has theirs up until Dec. 16), purchasing gifts online via new Angel Tree Gift Registries via Walmart that can be shopped to fulfill Angel Tree requests for those in need. Burger King, Foodland, and Sack N Save shoppers can donate at the register, or supporting or creating a virtual Angel Tree online via

“This is so good,” said Veronica Ramson who stopped by the Lihu‘e Corps to pick up a package of food that was supplemented with avocado and muffins dropped off by visitors. “Not only is this because of the holidays, this takes care of all those people who are dealing with this pandemic. Sending keiki into the streets during a time like this? Thank you.”

Kaua‘i’s sole Red Kettle is outside the Walmart store in Lihu‘e due to the pandemic moving The Salvation Army adopting nationally mandated safety protocols to ensure the safety of bell ringers, donors, and partners. Red Kettle donations support community-based programs in the area of each island where the donation is made.

To help supplement the lack of kettles, virtual kettles have been established for all of the Corps and communities throughout the state. Simply visit, and scroll down to select the island community to support.

“It feels strange,” said Capt. Keoho. “It somehow doesn’t feel the same with no bells ringing. But it’s Christmas!”


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