LIHU‘E — Tina Albao, the Boys &Girls Club of Hawai‘i Kaua‘i director of operations and development, said the organization vowed to make Christmas (and the holidays) a happy time.
Albao and the staff of the club made this vow at the onset of the novel coronavirus in March.
“We choose to make today our Happy Day,” Albao said Thursday as the club hosted its holiday distribution for 180 families across the four primary sites: West Kaua‘i Clubhouse, Lihu‘e Clubhouse that combined with the former Pier 1 store in the Kukui Marketplace, and the Kapa‘a Clubhouse.
“Friday is the last day of out of school (program). Monday, we start winter break, where we will have a lot more children.”
Families in a drive-thru format were presented with bags of rice, some stuffing, clothing from Koloa Surf, and a $50 gift card for either TS Restaurants on Kaua‘i, Duke’s Canoe Club or Keoki’s Paradise, or Times Supermarket, when they drove in to pick up their children, who enjoyed a shopping spree through the collection of toys generated by the Keiki Toy Run hosted Sunday by the Kaua‘i Motorcycle Coalition.
“Did you see that?” asked Asaka Herman, Lihu‘e Clubhouse director, as a car drove away. “That lady was so happy when she saw the gift card, she started crying. She was crying as she drove away.”
In addition to the holiday offering, Albao said there were others who received letters from Mrs. Claus.
“Some families need a little more than others,” Albao said. “Each of the clubs do their part to secure extras for their own clubhouse.”
She said they haven’t seen Santa this year because of the pandemic.
“Earlier, I got a call from our board President Jim Braman, who was speaking with a woman and her husband (they want to remain anonymous), who wanted to adopt a family,” Albao said. “Of course, I started shaking with excitement, because how often are you able to directly address the needs of our families who are having such a hard time?”
“We are calling this project ‘Mrs. Claus’ because the ultimate goal is to create happiness at Christmas for a few families who deserve some extra help,” Albao said. “It’s Christmas, and in the spirit of Christmas, Mrs. Claus is spreading cheer and removing stress, and allowing for Christmas to exist in a time where the pandemic is making it hard for people thinking about their future.”
Albao said the anonymous couple is supporting 12 families so far.
“She wants nothing in return other than these families to take some time out to be happy with their families,” Albao said. “Some families are receiving toys to put under the tree, or grocery cards, gift cards, or payment of their utility bills, or the rent or mortgage payments.”
Just two days ago, Albao said Mrs. Claus sent out toys and grocery gift cards totaling $100 and $200 to families in the Kapa‘a Clubhouse.
“The Boys &Girls Club of Hawai‘i is determined to get through this pandemic,” Albao said. “We are a strong organization with dedicated staff who have a mission to serve youth. With Mrs. Claus on our side, this will be the best Christmas ever.”