LIHU‘E — Wayne Medeiros and his team from Pyramid Insurance had the job of cutting off wristbands from claimed backpacks Saturday and state Department of Education Kaua‘i Complex Area Superintendent Paul Zina inherited his clipboard from predecessor William “Bill” Arakaki when the Eighth annual Back to School Bash opened at Kukui Grove Center.
“I guess it’s mine now,” Zina said, getting help from a Kaua‘i beauty queen Miss Wai‘ale‘ale Megan Souza and a visit from Miss Hawai‘i Lauren Teruya.
The DOE, in partnership with KGC and a host of community sponsors, hosted the first in-person distribution following two years of adapted events due to the pandemic. The combined force of volunteers from the community sponsors distributed more than 2,500 backpacks of school supplies to school students, as well as the Parent Community Network Center coordinators, the homeless, and special needs Women In Need.
With the years of experience behind them, the organizers had backpacks specially created for elementary-level students, and for students in middle and high schools.
“Hawai‘i Foodservice Alliance joined the bash as a new presenting sponsor,” said Melissa McFerrin-Warrack, KGC specialty leasing and marketing manager. “They are doing this as part of their 20th anniversary, and their participation helped us make this year’s goal.”
Other community sponsors included Kaua‘i’s credit unions, the Hawai‘iUSA Federal Credit Union, the Kaua‘i Board of Realtors and others.
“The Hawai‘i Foodbank Kaua‘i brought in a pallet of crayons, the Department of Water kicked in water bottles, and Target helped to pull together heavier supplies that would have otherwise been very expensive to ship,” McFerrin-Warrack said. “The support of all the community members and sponsors who come together to support the students each year is amazing. It reminds us that this is more than just a giveaway, it’s a tradition that brings us together every year around our students.”
Described as the island’s largest school-supplies giveaway, people who missed getting a confirmed registration still had the opportunity to get some supplies at a table manned by HFA volunteers, and once the backpacks were secured, people were welcomed to the Passport to Fun that included a variety of community sponsors and activities unfolding under a canopy of entertainment including the Tsunami Taiko, the Hawai‘i Children’s Theatre, hula, and even a sneak preview of Miss Hawai‘i’s talent for the upcoming Miss America pageant.
According to the DOE school calendar, teachers report back to school as early as July 26, with most students reporting to school on Aug. 1.
Dennis Fujimoto, staff writer and photographer, can be reached at 245-0453 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Source: The Garden Island