When the rest of us around Oahu were busy going door to door looking to score mounds of candy, Paul Iijima, vice president and controller for Island Insurance Companies, and employee volunteers from the Island Insurance, Atlas Insurance and Hoike team were teaming up with representatives of Kapiolani Medical Center for Women and Children to create holiday magic for the nonprofit hospital’s littlest patients. They all put on their best Disney disguises and transformed a floor into a Halloween wonderland, complete with trick-or-treat houses, picture-taking stalls, games and much more.
“Halloween is a chance for children to express themselves, and these kids deserve the chance to have fun,” Iijima says. “To see their smiles and how much they are enjoying themselves is so gratifying. We all agree that we will do our best to make sure each child has a great time.”
He adds that he personally looks forward to the arts and crafts projects because it gives him the opportunity to get a first-hand perspective of Halloween through a child’s eyes.
The idea for this night of Halloween Magic came about five years ago after one of Iijima’s employees had a relative working at the hospital. “A group of employees got together to think of a solution, and the Halloween Magic event was created so the children feel like they aren’t missing out on things their friends on doing,” states Iijima.
“It’s their ongoing commitment to this event that is really special,” adds Kapiolani COO Martha Smith. “It’s really special for them to put their time and energy together for our kids and our hospital.”
Smith (seen above with Iijima and a cast of characters that includes, from left, Ashton Yacas-Sandoval, Jace Yacas-Sandoval, My Que Ly, May Toa and Taylor Tagatac) has been a key player in this activity since the get-go as well, and she is the first to confesses she doesn’t know any kid - young and old alike - who doesn’t relish in the Halloween revelries, and that includes the staff at Kapiolani.
“For us, it’s important to give kids with specialized needs a bright spot in their day,” Smith explains. “They are going through so much, and this is a great opportunity to have a break from treatment, to have a break from the hardships and have a chance to be normal kids for a while. Just to see a smile on their face means a lot.”
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