Santa and his Reindeer make their appearance at the end of the 2011 Kailua-Kona Christmas Parade. (Laura Shimabuku/Special to West Hawaii Today)
Hunger never takes a holiday — but you can help ensure The Food Basket’s shelves remain stocked this holiday season.
The Kona, Kona Mauka, Kona Sunrise and North Hawaii Rotary clubs are turning Dec. 15 into a day-long food- and fund-generating event for the nonprofit food bank through the inaugural Menehune Holiday Food Drive, said Kailua-Kona Community Parade Association Chairman Clifford Kopp, who is also a Rotarian. The hope is to collect enough nonperishable foods and donations to equate to 100,000 pounds of food for hungry members of the Big Island community.
“The holidays are one of the biggest periods, a time in which the food bank needs to provide nutritious food to the people of the Big Island,” said Pete Hoffmann, an outgoing Hawaii County Councilman and Rotarian. “Hunger never takes a holiday — if you’re hungry on Christmas Day, you’re just as hungry, and it’s just as serious as if you were hungry on the 15th of January.”
To date, the clubs have raised $15,000, which can provide the food bank with buying power for about 50,000 pounds of food, Kopp said. He is confident the drive will raise at least enough buying power for about 80,000 pounds.
“We’re just here to help the food basket out for maybe two to three weeks, maybe a month,” he said about how long that amount of food lasts.
The Food Basket Executive Director Nani Lee, who retires at year’s end, was unable to be reached for comment about the project. In a previous article about the project, she estimated that if the clubs reach their monetary and food donation goals, it could keep the shelves full for about a month.
She also said that an independent survey of Hawaii Island estimated about 27 percent of island children do not know where they will get their next meal. The figure — higher than the state average of 20 percent — means some of those island schoolchildren likely get their meals at school.
From 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Dec. 15, donations can be made at any of nine locations in West Hawaii before club members head to Kailua-Kona. There the Rotarians join the food bank, parade participants and Tommy “Kahikina” Ching to collect more nonperishable food and donations at the 28th annual Kailua-Kona Christmas Parade. Donations can be dropped off at any announcing station, as well as with the Hawaii Food Basket’s float during the parade.
Parade entrants are also supporting the drive with community entries “paying” a 20-pound bag of rice and commercial and political entries having $25 of their $75 entry fee being donated directly to the food bank, Kopp said. The $25 donation is enough to purchase about two 20 pounds bags of rice.
The parade will start at 5 p.m. and meander 1.2 miles from Kekuaokalani Gymnasium to Walua Road. It will feature nearly 75 entries comprising 1,900 people, Kopp said.
Themed “Let’s Be Jolly,” the parade will have at least two-thirds of its floats lit, the most candy given out at any parade on Hawaii Island and, of course, Santa Claus, he added.
The parade’s Grand Marshal is Barbara Nobriga, who has been a community advocate, providing leadership with the 4-H Horse Club, Daughters of Hawaii, Kona Historical Society, Kona’s King Kamehameha Day Parade, as well as restoration projects that include Hulihee Palace and Kamehameha III’s birthplace in Keauhou. Uncle Billy Kimi will also be honored for his 90th birthday.
For more information on the parade and food drive, visit paradesinkona.com. For more information on The Food Basket, or to donate, visit foodbaskethi.org or call 933-6030.
Here are the nine locations where Rotarians will collect nonperishable foods and donations:
Choice Mart in Captain Cook
KTA locations in Keauhou, Kailua-Kona and Waimea
Safeway in Kailua-Kona
Walmart in Kailua-Kona
Sack N Save in Kailua-Kona
Waikoloa Village Market in Waikoloa
Foodland in Waimea