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Co-workers inspired to help needy family


    Co-workers Aisha Holcomb, left, Frances Schneider and Jaime Kuamo‘o got together this year to adopt a family in need in the Star-Advertiser’s Good Neighbor Fund drive.

Every Christmas for years, Frances Schneider took her kids to pick out a present for a needy child.

This was to teach them the satisfaction of giving, and because it was a more personal gesture than just sending a check to a charity.

It was something her children could easily relate to.

They knew how a child would feel if they expected Santa to leave gifts for them under the tree, but on Christmas morning find “there’s nothing there, because mom and dad can barely afford to put food on the table,” Schneider said.

So Schneider invited two co-workers to join her in adopting a family for Christmas and getting the co-workers’ youngsters involved in the process. She got the idea when she saw the Honolulu Star-Advertiser’s Good Neighbor Fund story Nov. 27 ( about a single mother, “Theresa” (a pseudonym), who was struggling to raise her children in a loving home.

This newspaper works with Helping Hands Hawaii to collect funds and donations of material goods for its annual Adopt A Family Program during the holidays. Readers may designate that their donations go to a particular family featured in stories running every Sunday until Christmas. Funds will provide a special dinner and a few extras from Santa and help people with basic expenses throughout the year.

Schneider said she felt compelled to help Theresa.

“She’s the kind of person you really want to do something for, so that she doesn’t slide backwards and she keeps moving forward,” she said. “I thought it would be good to adopt her family.

“What really struck me was her (Theresa’s) determination, given all the disadvantages she’s been through, to still have a strong will to have certain things for her children.”

Schneider was impressed with the way her older boys were glad to help watch the youngest brother so their mom could work, and how Theresa emphasized the importance of college to get ahead in life.

Schneider said she could also identify with the family because her son was “a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles fanatic” just as Theresa’s 4-year-old son is. She was excited about finding some TMNT pajamas for the little boy, and planned another shopping trip to get a few items for the older boys and for Theresa, who’s “doing a wonderful job as a mom.”

Schneider, a retired nurse, works as an office manager for two physical therapists in Kaimuki, Aisha Holcomb and Jaime Kuamo‘o.

“We’re like three peas in a pod!” she said.

Kuamo‘o has two daughters who dote on their baby brother as do Theresa’s sons, Schneider added.

Holcomb and husband Richard have a 9-year-old son, Kimat, who was eager to shop for a TMNT action figure for Theresa’s little boy, said Aisha Holcomb.

The family has made a habit of cooking meals for homeless people and giving them donated clothing, “because we want to teach our son empathy and compassion and to help other people,” she said. They’ve taken Kimat along with them, first in Kakaako, where this population is largest, then downtown. Her husband, a lawyer who started this charitable work before they married 10 years ago, thought the homeless in Chinatown were more “desperate,” as fewer organizations did their outreach there, Holcomb said.

Her son wanted to start his own nonprofit foundation to help the homeless when he was 8. Kimat even took a cooking class last summer so he could make brownies and cookies, and set up a lemonade stand to raise funds for the foundation, Holcomb said.

Since she has been too busy to help her son, and the family missed their usual Thanksgiving dinner giveaway to the homeless, they welcomed Schneider’s suggestion to adopt a family for Christmas.

The Holcombs aren’t connected with any church or agency.

“We just do it ourselves,” she said. “We both grew up poor, so we always feel like we should give back to other people.”



Ifuku Family $3,000

Kate C. and Hallett H. Hammatt $1,000

Sydney J. Palm-McIntosh & Judith I Palm $800

Not Yet Foundation $750

In Memory of Shunichi and Sueko Miyashiro $500

Steven M.C. Lum $500

Cynthia Burdge $300

David & Noah Shimokawa and Richard

& Mimi Lam $300

In Loving Memory of Captain Gabriel Garduque, Gabriel Jr., Remedious and Marcos Gardueque $200

In Loving Memory of Miki Powell $200

In Memory of Myrna Minatodani $200

Craig S. Muramoto, Trustee and Lori K. Muramoto, Trustee $200

Frances Lyons $200

James D. & Patricia L. Abts $200

Joern O. and Chandre M. Hinrichs $200

M/M Calvin K.H. Loo $200

Sheryl Gardner $200

In Loving Memory of Akiko and Shinobu $150

In Memory of Jean Nouchi $150

Marty Black $150

Mike and Wendy Miyabara $150

Glenn N.C.K. and Gayle H. Ching $150

In Memory of Irene Pundhu and Ima Okubo $125

Mel, Jean, Mitchell and Micah Yoshimura $125

Bobbi Gail Lipton $108

In Memory of Balbino and Antonia Gamatero $100

In Memory of Darin and Lance Oda $100

In Memory of Frances C. Hee $100

In Memory of Herbert H. Hee $100

In Memory of Lillian T. Chun $100

In Memory of Masami, Sachiko and Larry Tanaka $100

In Memory of Reynold Y.S. Leong $100

In Memory of Wallace Y.H. Soong $100

In Memory of William F. Ehrman $100

In Memory of Yebo $100

Anthony J. Baldomero Sr. and Wolletta K. Baldomero $100

B. R. and L. Burns $100

Beatrice Gould $100

Brenda Machosky and Joseph M. Herzog $100

Carolyn and Noble Lieu $100

Daniel I. Takamatsu $100

Dennis F. and Carrie Y. Kawamoto $100

Fred K. Gamble $100

June C.N. Won TR June C.N. Won Living Trust $100

Marc A. Kowalski $100

Marianne H. Au $100

Martin Humphrey Beach and Ann G. Beach $100

Melvin M. Ige $100

Michael Leo Lustig $100

Michael P. Matwichyna $100

Michael R. & Laurie L. Walsh $100

Natsuko and Shigeto Minami $100

Patrick T. and Nancy K. Sonoda $100

Precious Memories of Dad, Glenn, Karen,

Gene and Son $100

Randolph W. and Stephanie K. Sakauye $100

Sandra and Melvyn K. Sakaguchi $100

Thomas B.S. Chun $100

Thomas T. Kamiya SFC USA $100

Thomas T. Takara $100

In Memory of Lavinia $50

Precious Memories of Dad, Mom, and Donald $50

Alan T. Okamoto $50

David D. Hallstein $50

Dawn K. and Ryan R. Marugame $50

Douglas T. Takaba $50

From Santa $50

George S. and Gayle M. Hirose $50

Glenn S. and Karen T. Hamada $50

Helen F. Popovich $50

Joyce H.C. Lau $50

Lance Watari and Lills Malamah $50

Mary Chang Fong and Robyn S.J. Fong $50

Hannah K. Nakamura $35

Kathleen and Jay K. Fung $30

R.H. and M.L. $30

Alan H. Kawamoto $25

Marya Grambs and Janet A. Montgomery $25

Philip K. Hanohano $25

Soichi Matsuoka $25

Anonymous $2,840

By Request Recipes $2,845

Weekly total: $19,988

Previous week’s total: $5,111

Grand total: $25,099

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  • It’s great that these people help to bring gifts to children that do not receive such from their families due to financial hardship. But to focus totally on the material things can also lead us to avoid a teaching moment for our children. Families that teach their children that it is not about material things that prove one’s love for their children but other things. What are we teaching our children when we focus on material gift giving? We teach them the need for material things to fill a void in their life. They grow up wanting more material things and feel empty when they don’t get those things. We live in such a commercial world where Christmas is now about retail sales and marketing. If you don’t give material gifts you don’t have the spirit. That’s what the marketers want you to believe. What happened to just simply spending time together? It’s the world we live in where Christmas is no longer about the birth of Christ. It’s now about Santa and toys of every kind.

  • Kudos to these Good Samaritans for their deeds. But we should not overlook the teachable moment that we must instill in our children that material things are not what’s most important. It’s about families sharing their love for one another that is most important.

  • You would think there would be information on how to donate money or where to send money or gifts to such as a phone number or address but I guess that’s too hard for the Star Advertiser to include…..

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