November 22, 2016

Project Kahiau Swells Holiday Spirit

Photo of Christmas gift box with red bow.

For the past eleven years, Maui Police Dept. Lanai Sgt. Kimberly Masse has orchestrated generous community giving through the Kahiau Project. The annual initiative culminates in the distribution of gifts of new toys, clothing and food to Lanai’s needy families and individuals on Christmas Day.

The Kahiau Project has successfully streamlined and enhanced holiday giving campaigns on Lanai from years past, delivering much needed goods to anonymous families and individuals across the island.

“Some families don’t have anything,” explains Sgt. Masse. “The Kahiau Project helps everyone; families with or without children, couples and singles all get equal service.”

Starting as early as August, Sgt. Masse begins advertising for the Kahiau Project by spreading the word about applications for wish lists and donations. By September, applications for wish lists are distributed by Lanai’s social service agencies and are available for pickup at Lanai Police Station during normal business hours, Monday through Friday.

Two applications are available, one for families with children under the age of 18, and another for adults (singles or couples). Families may submit wish lists for their children to help Sgt. Masse match appropriate donations to each child.

This year, there are approximately 126 children and teens and nine long-term hospital patients with wish lists.

Giving to the Kahiau Project

Sgt. Masse and her team collect monetary donations, wish list items and non-perishable foods at the police station or from the toy drop-off box at Bank of Hawaii. Residents may pick their own wish list to fulfil from the Kahiau Christmas tree located at the Lanai Senior Center. If donors find they are not able to drop gifts off at the station, Sgt. Masse and her team are happy to pick them up.

This year, the Kahiau Project team will be collecting items to fill 50 gift bags for adult individuals who may be alone on Christmas, are elderly, or would benefit from such service. Suggested items for these gift bags are useful household items such as:

  • Candles
  • Wet wipes
  • Kitchen towels
  • Cleaning products

“A helpful guide for these gifts is something a person may use all year round,” says Sgt. Masse.

In addition to donations for kupuna and small keiki, the Kahiau Project is also accepting contributions for teenagers. It may seem difficult to shop for middle and high school gift recipients, but Sgt. Masse knows a few favorites.

“Athletic equipment, makeup and alarm clocks are great for this age group, especially the alarm clocks!”

Distributing Holiday Cheer

By Christmas day, the gifts have been picked up or distributed by volunteers and families. “The most moving part of the Project is when the parents come by the station to pick up presents for their kids,” says Sgt. Masse. “The parents often cry because they are so thankful to have gifts for their kids.”

For the Kahiau Project, the focus is not about where the gifts came from, but the support and generosity that the Lanai community demonstrates during the holiday season.

Gift Guidelines:

If you are interested in contributing to the Kahiau Project, please follow these gift guidelines:

  • Items must be new and unwrapped
  • Toys, personal hygiene products and clothes are popular items
  • Monetary donations in the form of checks must be made out to the Lanai Art Center (donors can notate their contributions for a tax write off)
  • Cash is accepted and used to buy gift cards to Pine Isle Market and Richard’s Market
  • Wrapping paper is welcome

The deadline to participate in this community giving project is Dec. 15.

For questions about the Kahiau Project, call Sgt. Masse or Tess Morimoto at 565-6428.

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