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Mom would appreciate clothing, new shoes for her son

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    Dolly Ann Tapaoan’s primary concern since moving to Kaneohe has been her son’s education.

It broke Dolly Ann Tapaoan’s heart to hear her young son ask, “Mom, how come we cannot live with Dad?”

That was three years ago, right after her husband fell behind on the rent and they lost their house. He found himself a place to camp in a friend’s garage, but left Tapaoan and her son to fend for themselves. She and her son ended up living on the beach or emergency shelters, she said.

Eventually they qualified for a small, state-subsidized apartment in Kaneohe, where they’ve been living the past two years. Tapaoan, 54, is a part-time saleswoman and hopes to increase her hours soon. Celebrating Christmas last year was done with minimal fanfare, but, she said, “It was OK. He no ask for so much, my boy.”

The Adopt A Family program, run by Helping Hands Hawai‘i, can provide a little something extra at Christmas for families struggling to get by. Through the Honolulu Star-Advertiser’s annual Good Neighbor Fund, readers can “adopt” a family or contribute to the general fund, which will enable Helping Hands to assist some 600 households this year. In addition to basic necessities, the most requested items are clothing and shoes, housewares and popular toys.


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.


Tapaoan was married for 30 years, but her husband’s abandonment was the last straw in a troubled relationship. Through Legal Aid Society of Hawai‘i, she obtained a divorce and had to fight to get child support. In the meantime, “I couldn’t get into a shelter till an authority would say that I was truly homeless!” She laughed. “I thought that was crazy!”

She and her son, whom she calls “my bebbe (baby),” at first lived out of their truck at Ewa Beach. “The truck would be home,” she said. Tapaoan’s nephew would “put up fishing poles (in the sand) so the police wouldn’t chase us off, because you can’t be there unless you’re fishing.” While her son went to school, she would go to work for a cleaning company.

Another relative would invite them to use their shower or washing machine. “Sometimes, it was OK, but I needed to leave because it felt funny kine, like I’m a burden,” Tapaoan said.

Her ex-husband did pay child support for a year when the divorce was finalized, but then he died in 2014. As his survivors, they are able to collect Social Security. Still, it’s been hard to pay all the bills on a limited income.

When they were homeless, she could barely pay the $250-a-month fee to store her furniture and possessions. Her sister had to lend her the money to get their things out of storage once they got into their apartment. After living on the beach and different emergency shelters, it was a relief to finally have a place to call home.

When her son first walked into the apartment, “He was happy. He was happy,” Tapaoan said.

Now that things have settled down, “My concern is his education,” she said. Tapaoan is gratified her son was accepted this fall on scholarship to Kamehameha Schools, and is making new friends. He was able to get a lightly used school uniform for a nominal fee, but he needs a pair of shoes with white soles for physical education so they don’t scuff the gymnasium floor, she said. Some new clothes would help because he’s outgrown his old wardrobe — “He sprouted up so fast. He’s just as tall as I am.”

For Christmas, “I wouldn’t mind going out to dinner. A restaurant where you can sit and just talk story,” Tapaoan said, mentioning Denny’s Restaurant.

“Nothing fancy,” she said. “I don’t think I would know how to act in a fancy restaurant, what fork to use.”


Name Amount
Thomas J. Vincent Foundation Inc. $600
Stephen S.F. & Canossa I. Man Choy $500
Keith M. & Lisa Sakamoto $350
In Memory of Harriet C. Kam $250
Memory of Abbie Aulani Mahoe $200
In Loving Memory of Larry Maloney $200
On Behalf of Tuesday Connection $200
Frances A. Bashant $200
Norman T. Kukino $200
Ross & Mari $200
Joanne Tetsutani $200
Sam K. Yee & Camille A L Chun-Hoon $200
In Loving Memory of Gabriel Jr. & Marcos Garduque, Simeon & Victoria Amor & Ezra Nussbaum $150
Martin & Laura Black $150
George & Joan P. Kent $150
In Loving Memory of Wakatoshi & Aiko
Nakamura $100
Shangri-La Realty Ltd. $100
Kasianna Akiyama $100
Marcia L. & Lloyd T. Arakawa $100
Marilee Namba Duffy $100
Sheryl P. Gardner $100
Barny H. Gomes $100
Beatrice Gould $100
Stephen & Yuka Hazam $100
Barbara L. Hudman $100
Chad Kawai $100
Louis A. & Kuniko Kirgan $100
Michael P. Matwichyna $100
Mel, Dar, Chad & Quin $100
Willson C. Jr. and Sally C. Moore $100
Mackenzie & Buddy’s Nana $100
Raymond Y. & Elaine S. Sakai $100
Patrick T. & Nancy K. Sonoda $100
Laura Sherrill & T.A. Wesley Smith $100
G. Ken & Claire M. Uechi $100
Brian Yamasaki $100
Noble & Carolyn Lieu $65
In Memory of Paul Schrader $50
June K. Fujimoto $50
Carl Hiyakumoto $50
J., J.S. and J.K. $50
Kenton, Karynna, & Kallen $50
Donn & Stephanie Murakami $50
Noah & Micah Naniole-Furutani $50
Masami & Joyce H. Nishimoto $50
Alma Y.C. & Donald O’Day $50
Alan T. Okamoto $50
Keiki Lucy Kim Pang $50
“Princess Daisy” $50
Patsy A. & Shizuye Uehara $50
Patricia R. & James N. Siquig $30
Michael T. & Wendy Y. Sorakubo $30
In Loving Memory of Adam Moniz $25
Leslie A. Hayashi $25
Beatrice K. & Hikoji Nakaoka $25
Pedro M. & Jane T. Poentis $25
Joy Prucnal $25
Ronald Majamay $24
Travis D. Ammia $10
Jaime Rankin $10
Robert Cartmel $1
Amy Suragairin $1
Anonymous $1,450
By Request Recipes $1,205
Weekly total: $9,451
Previous week’s total: $9,946
Grand total: $19,397
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