Sarah Pacheco
Wednesday - December 19, 2007
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With less than a week until Christmas, supplies of holiday spirit usually run low. But you’ll be hard-pressed to find a single Scrooge among the members of KHON-TV’s Lokahi Team.

“They are my own elves,” chimes Mona Wood of IKAIKA Communications. “Anytime we’ve been asked, this team has really stepped up to the task, and I am so proud of them.”

Wood assembled the group earlier this season as a way to support the annual Lokahi Giving Project’s in-house team of Lokahi ambassador Tannya Joaquin, Neighbor Island coordinator Trini Kaopuiki, co-founder and executive director Mariellen Jones and program manager Meriel Collins.

“Our Lokahi team answers the call and gets things done that we couldn’t do on our own,” says Joaquin, who filled the leadership role after Leslie Wilcox moved to PBS Hawaii earlier this year. “They’re putting in long hours every day, putting off their own Christmas celebrations until they can get the gifts in the hands of recipients.”

Proof of the team’s hard work and selfless dedication can be seen in KHON’s new donation center and office. Office necessities, including a computer, printer, water cooler, fax and furniture, were donated by volunteers, and MOBI PCS is providing free phones and services.

Head elf of the project is Outrigger engineer and father of three, Dennis Maher: “I had known about the Lokahi project for quite a few years but didn’t think I could do anything to benefit the cause. That’s half the challenge: People don’t know what they can contribute until they get involved.”

In addition to helping with wiring and technical aspects, he is busy contacting retailers and contractors so that the Kaka’ako warehouse can soon be checked off his list. “It’s something that turns out to be the most rewarding experience,” he says in a a warm voice. “There’s a sense of accomplishment of doing for others what they can’t do for themselves. Now that I’m involved, I think there’s a lot of different things I can do; this is definitely something I’ll continue past Jan. 1.”

Like Maher, other Lokahi Team members have gladly given their time and talents to numerous holiday to-dos. Sir Lance Rae stepped in last minute to ensure a fundraiser dinner was able to go on as scheduled, while Randy and Gay Hongo coordinated the evening’s entertainment; in fact, they even took to the stage to perform a few numbers themselves. If you like the new design of this year’s cutouts, thank Michelle Cabalse of T&C by picking up a few for $1 each, with all proceeds going to Lokahi charities. Pam Davis of Oahu Concierge magazine says guests at her next party should accessorize with a stuffed toy (to be donated) along with their fanciest bags and baubles.

Rounding out the team are Adrian Kamali’i, Alan Yamamoto, Amber Ashlock, Lt. Andy Baldwin, Christine Casil, David Neisen, David Patterson, Matt Derby, Dr. Hugo Higa, Jan Hori, Jasmine Tso, Lianne B. Thompson, Mike Hall, Obed Donlin, Paul Klink, Shannon Scott, Valerie Tamura and “Bruddah” Wade Faildo. Expect to see their efforts not just at upcoming holiday drives, but also at those in the coming year.

“We’re just getting started,” Joaquin says, anticipation and pride ringing in her voice. “We’re very excited about doing bigger and better things in the future. It’s tremendous to have a team of doers in the trenches with us.”

Seconds Wood: “We plan to do a much bigger event next year, possibly even a summer fundraising concert, so we have a lot on our plates for 2008. But the team said they’re ready!”

The Lokahi Giving Project was first founded by Jones and Wilcox in 1985 as a way to provide struggling families with “a little something extra” during the holidays. 2007 marked the first year for Lokahi to partner with the nonprofit Keiki O Ka ‘Aina Family Learning Center and spread that same cheer to more than 300 non-profits, social service agencies, group homes and hospitals year-round.

Christmas gifts are still being collected, with the greatest needs being for baby supplies and food/gift cards. Donations can be dropped off at their warehouse on Ilaniwai Street (between Cooke and Ward) or at any of these locations: Starbucks, Central Pacific Bank and Hawaii Self Storage.

“Manpower and time is a priceless donation for us,” Joaquin enthusiastically urges. “There are so many more things we can do, and more people we can help, if we have the bodies. We can always use more volunteers.” To get involved, contact Mariellen Jones at 591-4295 or .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)

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