VOICES: Giving and getting are connected

  • Contributed

    The Kaua‘i Store owner Erik Burton poses with Emilia, one of his young volunteers who makes Christmas ornaments and other items he can sell to raise some money during this time of the year. The shelves behind them are full of donated items.

‘Tis the season of giving, first giving thanks (Thanksgiving) and now giving gifts to our precious keiki and to individuals and organizations who are serving our community on our behalf.

Giving and getting are very connected. When we give children gifts, we get to delight in their delight. When we give charities gifts, we get the satisfaction of seeing that money used to implement programs we believe in.

This year, we chose to re-direct our usual gift-giving from our 11 mainland family members to the Kapa‘a Community Food Pantry. It is not (yet) a nonprofit, so we had to forego a tax deduction. But it felt too important to let that get in the way of helping our neighbors. Here’s the letter we sent to our family members in whose names we made the donation:

“When we went into The Kaua‘i Store to buy each of you local, handcrafted gifts for Christmas. What we saw was startling. Because of the lack of visitors to our island, the owner, Erik, decided to clear a whole wall of his shelves and turn his shop into a community pantry. Boxes and cans were scattered on the shelves. His floor was full of baskets of fresh fruits and vegetables.

“Families in the community who can afford to share their food from their gardens and pantries. Families who need food can stop by any time to get food without having to qualify. It is a true community pantry, serving about 100 hungry people each day who stop by, plus the houseless to whom Erik delivers.

“After months of volunteering to serve the community from his own store, without the income he used to get from his store, Erik is unable to pay his rent and electric bills. The day before we stopped in, he had posted a Go Fund Me campaign asking for help. (See the Kaua‘i Store Facebook page.)

“To keep this important community pantry open, we decided to donate what we would have spent on your Christmas gifts so that he can continue to feed people in need at least through the month of December. We are making these donations in each of your names.

“Thank you for the gift of YOU this Christmas and every day. We count our blessings for each and every one of you. Truly, YOU are the greatest gift we could ever want. Thank you for forgoing personal gifts from us this year so that you could instead contribute to another child or parent or grandparent in need on an island we all love.

“We bought the enclosed ornaments at The Kaua‘i Store. They were handmade by Mary. Enjoy.

“May the riches and joy of family this Christmas fill your hearts to overflowing with gratitude, as ours are.”


Marian and Glenn Head are residents of Kapa‘a.


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