Cherry Castillo (above left with Cheryl Burnett) is already devising ways to make next year’s Lokahi Giving Project bigger and better with the support of her Kokua Nurses ohana.
The Lokahi Giving Project helps families in Hawaii struggling to afford the most basic needs such as shampoo, blankets and food during the holidays. News anchor Leslie Wilcox and Mariellen Jones started the project in 1985.
“We started it as a company,” Castillo explains about her lead role in the project the past two years. “Then we invited our associates in other companies that we work with, and it got bigger. Then we invited neighbors in the building and before you know it, it just got huge.”
After filling their conference room with donations of toys, food, diapers, laundry soap and gifts, co-workers and their families helped sort the items at a packed-Kalihi warehouse on the Wednesday and Thursday before Christmas.
One of their colleague’s husband is in the military, and he brought several of his buddies who volunteered to pack things too.
“It was fun and it felt good to know we can make these people happy for the holidays,” says Castillo, who moved to Hawaii from California three years ago.
Castillo, a personnel specialist and project manager for Kokua Nurses, is also the point person for community projects.
The Honolulu resident notes she’s motivated to volunteer because she appreciates her family’s support.
“I know how hard it is because I’m a single parent too,” she says.
“I can relate to the struggle.”
One challenge Castillo says she faces is that a lot of people don’t realize that others need help with even the most basic necessities such as towels and soap.
“Even though more people need help, we did something to help this amount of people,” says Castillo.
Kokua Nurses administrator Cheryl Burnett adds that it’s part of their mission to support the community, and other projects they’ve volunteered with include helping the Red Cross for Katrina victims, and sending care packages to Hawaii soldiers in Iraq.
- Linda Dela Cruz
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