No matter what happens during the year, festive is always a joyous time for the Lanai community. And for 17 years, the Kahiau Project has been a large part of that. Residents currently living on the island, and even those abroad, all give generously to bring holiday cheer to families in need.
The Meaning of Kahiau
“Kahiau” means to give lavishly without the expectation of receiving anything in return.
True to its name, the project collects anonymous contributions of cash, toys, non-perishable foods, clothes and personal hygiene products. The Kahiau Project then distributes the donations on Christmas Day to Lanai residents in need, who also remain anonymous.
Donations are distributed based on the needs of recipients to ensure everyone receives appropriate gifts. The Kahiau Project team also does their best to fulfill wish list requests.
A Passion Project
The Kahiau Project was originally started by Sgt. Kimberly Masse of the Maui Police Department – Lanai to to make sure keiki and kupuna on the island didn’t feel forgotten during the holidays.
“The families who need this really need this,” said Sgt. Masse. “We’re able to offer something to them that actually brings joy and happiness, and just knowing that we can help people is the most important thing to me.”
This year, the program was able to serve 30 families, which included 58 keiki, and 60 additional community members.
Each family received $300 gift certificates for either grocery store on Lanai and $100 gift certificates for gasoline. All children received a bag full of gifts and senior citizens received a gift bag containing miscellaneous gifts and a $25 gift certificate for Pine Isle Market.
The Kahiau Project’s success can be attributed to unwavering support from the community. In addition to donations, many volunteers work tirelessly to support the effort. Some volunteers even take off from work to help wrap gifts.
“The community is always very generous,” said a grateful Sgt. Masse. “I want to thank everyone. This project is a success because of them. The appreciation from the kids and the parents, it’s just overwhelming. If it wasn’t for the community, we couldn’t do this. I’m just an organizer is really what I am.”
And while this year was a resounding success, Sgt. Masse hopes that more families in need will participate.
“The toughest part every year is getting people that need help to apply.”