KEKAHA — There was five minutes remaining until gates closed on the Kekaha Landfill’s Christmas Drive-Thru Wednesday, but the line of cars waiting to enter the landfill stretched beyond eyesight toward Polihale.
“I don’t know,” said a worker from the Kekaha Landfill. “We’re supposed to close the gates. I feel sorry for those people waiting in line, but I guess you have to do what you have to do. Maybe we’ll stay later.”
Hundreds of families took advantage of the Kekaha Landfill ‘ohana event, led by John Ruiz, to lay claim to a share of the food, fresh produce, bags of rice, cases of saimin, and age- and gender-appropriate wrapped gifts presented under a display of lights and sounds of a decorated Kekaha Landfill office breaking up the darkness of Wednesday night in the fields.
“This is the Kekaha Landfill,” said new County Councilmember Billy DeCosta, who was volunteering alongside the landfill ‘ohana. “They not only take your rubbish, they give out presents. These are the real people who work here. They are the power.”
Ruiz, the event’s designated leader, said the men worked with a number of community agencies and organizations to make the drive-thru a possibility.
“Do you believe that this happened in the last four days?” Ruiz asked. “This is the landfill crew’s way of giving back to our Westside community that we love very much. The sponsors came through. We have a lot of things, including 450 wrapped presents for the keiki, 200 food bags from the Hawai‘i Foodbank Kaua‘i Branch, 500 bags of produce donated by E Ola Mau, and all these bags of rice and cases of saimin. The sponsors, including Garden Isle Disposal, Wa‘alani Enterprises, the Danford Ka‘eo family, West Kaua‘i Dental, Glen Yeron and many more really came through.”
For the Hawai‘i Foodbank Kaua‘i Branch, the Kekaha Landfill’s Christmas Drive-Thru was one of two big events in less than two days, the second being the Koloa Landing Resort’s employees food distribution Thursday morning.
Chyenne Beach of the Hawai‘i Foodbank Kaua‘i Branch said the Kekaha Landfill event distributed more than 2,400 pounds that included peanut butter, macaroni, canned salmon, cream of mushroom soup, dried fruit mix and pistachios.
“And then there’s the rice,” Beach said. “There were 350 bags of rice.”
More rice was on the agenda for the Koloa Landing Resort employees’ distribution when the Hawai‘i Foodbank Kaua‘i Branch distributed more than 5,600 pounds of food Thursday morning.
“We never closed,” said Andy Evers, Koloa Landing Resort general manager.
“Right now, we have about 60 people working because we have owners who are full-time guests. Before the COVID-19, we had about 150 employees working, and before that, we were at around 225 employees. We have to thank the local residents for us being able to be here. When the visitors disappeared, guess who made it possible for us to keep our doors open?”
The Hawai‘i Foodbank Kaua‘i Branch inventory was bolstered by donations of Kaua‘i Shrimp and more than 1,000 pounds of fresh produce from ‘Aina Ho‘okupu‘u in Kilauea.
“This all happened just this morning,” said Wes Perreira, the Hawai‘i Foodbank Kaua‘i Branch manager.
“We knew about the donation of Kaua‘i Shrimp that is enough to stretch into Saturday’s distribution at the Kaua‘i Philippine Cultural Center. But the ‘Aina Ho‘okupu‘u donation that included onions, bananas baby bok choy, rambutan, arugula, eggplant, potato, and zucchini, just came through.”
Dennis Fujimoto, staff writer can be reached at 245-0453 or email@example.com.