Family gets a lift thanks to nonprofit
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Hawaii News

Family gets a lift thanks to nonprofit

  • KRYSTLE MARCELLUS / KMARCELLUS@STARADVERTISER.COM

    (L-R) Dad Kamaichy with Marky, 2, Mom Mairinda holding 4-month-old Kamy, Maiky, 7 front left and sister Nourita, 6 with Kawika Freitas with his daughter Kawena, 2, of the Hawaii Beach Volleyball Association (HBVA) at Ross Dress for Less in Kapolei on Tuesday, December 15, 2015. HBVA raised funds to sponsor a family for Christmas and took them shopping so they could choose their own presents.

  • KRYSTLE MARCELLUS / KMARCELLUS@STARADVERTISER.COM

    Kawika Freitas of Hawaii Beach Volleyball Association (HBVA) helps find shoes with Maiky, 7, at Ross Dress for Less in Kapolei on Tuesday, December 15, 2015.

  • KRYSTLE MARCELLUS / KMARCELLUS@STARADVERTISER.COM

    Nourita, 6, front chooses a dress with the help of mom Mairinda and Liz Guzman, Case Manager at Ulu Ke Kukui as the family shopped to find gifts for Christmas sponsored by the Hawaii Beach Volleyball Association (HBVA) at Ross Dress for Less in Kapolei on Tuesday, December 15, 2015.

  • KRYSTLE MARCELLUS / KMARCELLUS@STARADVERTISER.COM

    Nourita, 6, front chooses a dress with the help of mom Mairinda, center, sister Marky ,2, and Liz Guzman, Case Manager at Ulu Ke Kukui as the family shopped to find gifts for Christmas sponsored by the Hawaii Beach Volleyball Association (HBVA) at Ross Dress for Less in Kapolei on Tuesday, December 15, 2015.

  • KRYSTLE MARCELLUS / KMARCELLUS@STARADVERTISER.COM

    Nourita, 6, chooses a dress with the help of Liz Guzman, Case Manager at Ulu Ke Kukui as the family shopped to find gifts for Christmas sponsored by the Hawaii Beach Volleyball Association (HBVA) at Ross Dress for Less in Kapolei on Tuesday, December 15, 2015.

  • KRYSTLE MARCELLUS / KMARCELLUS@STARADVERTISER.COM

    Kelly Asinsin, case manager at Ulu Ke Kukui, helps Maiky try on a pair of shoes as the family shopped to find gifts for Christmas sponsored by the Hawaii Beach Volleyball Association (HBVA) at Ross Dress for Less in Kapolei on Tuesday, December 15, 2015.

  • KRYSTLE MARCELLUS / KMARCELLUS@STARADVERTISER.COM

    Nourita, left, finds the perfect backpack for Maiky, 7 as the family shopped to find gifts for Christmas sponsored by the Hawaii Beach Volleyball Association (HBVA) at Ross Dress for Less in Kapolei on Tuesday, December 15, 2015.

  • KRYSTLE MARCELLUS / KMARCELLUS@STARADVERTISER.COM

    Maiky, 7, is discovered as Liz Guzman, Case Manager at Ulu Ke Kukui jokes around as the family shopped to find gifts for Christmas sponsored by the Hawaii Beach Volleyball Association (HBVA) at Ross Dress for Less in Kapolei on Tuesday, December 15, 2015.

  • KRYSTLE MARCELLUS / KMARCELLUS@STARADVERTISER.COM

    (L-R) Dad Kamaichy holding Marky, 2, Maiky, 7, Nourita, 6, front, Mom Mairinda with 4-month-old Kamy, and Kawika Freitas with his daughter Kawena, 2, and wife Christine Freitas of the Hawaii Beach Volleyball Association (HBVA) at Ross Dress for Less in Kapolei on Tuesday, December 15, 2015. HBVA raised funds to sponsor a family for Christmas and took them shopping so they could choose their own presents.

With beaming faces, three small children scampered off in different directions throughout the department store, grabbing whatever caught their eyes and yelling, “I want this one!”

Maiky, 7, jumped on a rocking horse right away, and his sister Nourita, 6, grabbed a Barbie doll that she’d been wishing for, while Marky, 2, couldn’t decide what dress was the prettiest. They were the proverbial kids in a candy store, overwhelmed by the stuff that dreams are made of while shopping Tuesday at Ross Dress for Less in Kapolei.

The shopping frenzy started when Kawika Freitas called out, “Come on! Let’s spend!” with an arm gesture akin to waving the magic wand that made it all possible. He had $500 in his pocket, raised by his volleyball friends this month to enable a needy family to go on a Christmas shopping spree.

Freitas, president of the Hawaii Beach Volleyball Association, chose this family of six from a list of hundreds being assisted by Helping Hands Hawai‘i through the Adopt A Family program. The annual Christmas program is supported by the Honolulu Star-Advertiser’s annual Good Neighbor Fund drive so people struggling to get back on track can receive a special holiday dinner, needed items and a few extras from Santa. Readers may “adopt” a family or individual, or just donate to the general fund. The most requested items are clothing and shoes, household items and popular toys. Information on how to donate is available next to this article.

Freitas said the HBVA, which has about 100 members, held a volleyball tournament Dec. 5 with its corporate sponsors at Queen’s Surf Beach in Waikiki. “We try to do something every year” to benefit other nonprofits, he said.

His wife, Christine, came along on the Ross trip to help search for the right sizes in shoes and clothes, and their little girl Kawena got into the act, picking out her own favorites.

In the thick of it all, Freitas said, “It’s awesome! It makes me feel great! I love it when I see kids running around, all excited and happy. It’s amazing that they’re so happy just to get a pair of shoes. It’s not like I’m buying them the fanciest toy. They’re buying necessities and they’re happy about that.”

GOOD NEIGHBOR FUND

Clothing, household items and gifts can be dropped off until Dec. 19 at the Community Clearinghouse, 2100 N. Nimitz Highway in Kalihi on the corner of Puuhale Road and Nimitz.

Monetary gifts may be sent to the Star-Advertiser’s Good Neighbor Fund; c/o Helping Hands Hawai’i; 2100 N. Nimitz Highway, Honolulu, HI 96819.

Checks made out to the Good Neighbor Fund also may be dropped off at any of First Hawaiian Bank’s branches statewide.

Call 440-3800 for more information, to sign up for the Adopt A Family Program or to arrange for pickup of large items.

Helping Hands Hawai’i’s donation warehouse hours are 8 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. Monday to Friday. The warehouse will also be open from 8 a.m. to noon on Saturdays through Dec. 22.

The cost of everything came up to about $511, said Kelly Asinsin, the case manager for the Micronesian family assisted by the HBVA-raised funds.

The family moved from Chuuk almost three years ago; the parents of four children, including a baby girl, didn’t want to publicize their last name because of their embarrassment about accepting charity, Asinsin said. “I had a hard time getting her (the mother) to agree to it because she was ashamed.”

Asinsin has worked with the family at the Ulu Ke Kukui transitional shelter in Maili for the past eight months, and recommended them for the Adopt A Family program because “they show potential.”

“They’re a very grateful family, and I believe that they will succeed, they will get permanent housing, and that they will overcome everything that they’re currently going through,” she said.

More than a year ago, the family was living with relatives, who evicted them, Asinsin said. They ended up living on the beach for six months before entering an emergency shelter. The parents are not fluent English speakers, which has been a barrier to employment.

The father has been able to find only a part-time job as a custodian, and is trying to improve his English through an education program for the homeless. The mother bears the brunt of the stress that comes with taking care of an infant born with medical problems, Asinsin said.

After filling several shopping bags for the children, the parents were “very, very thankful,” Asinsin said, adding, “The kids were excited — they wanted to open everything and use the new clothes right away — because they don’t (usually) get to shop like this. I would say the family was blessed.” The mother plans to wrap some of the clothes, shoes and backpacks they picked out, and make them wait for Christmas to open their presents, Asinsin said.

Freitas said, “Growing up — I’m from Hilo — you see other kids that have had hard times when their backpacks are broken or they don’t have a backpack” and they lack many basic necessities. “I’m very fortunate that my parents busted their butts to give me what I needed.”

“So now I see kids going through that (hard times), and I’m in a situation where I’m able to give back, and I feel it’s only right. … Being a father now, I can’t imagine not being able to provide for my kids. It would be devastating. So any little help I think we can do, we should do it as a community,” he said.

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