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East Kaua‘i Lions party, give back to community

East Kaua‘i Lion John Ochoco, leading the invocation on Sunday during the EK Lions Club Christmas party, asked the audience to change “amen” to “we serve.”

Lions Past District Governor Roy Nishida said the Christmas party at the Hilton Garden Inn Kaua‘i Wailua Bay, the first since being shut down by the pandemic, would be different.

“Instead of just fun and merriment, this year, we’re going to share with those who we’ve helped,” Nishida said. “There are four groups, including the Kaua‘i ‘Opio Keiki Orchestra, the parents and children who have been diagnosed with diabetes, Toys For Tots, and the Kaua‘i Independent Food Bank who can enjoy some of the joy of the season.”

Described as “the most talented youngsters on the island,” the KOKO Quintet opened the merriment with a patriotic violin rendering of “Hawai‘i Pono‘i” under the lead of KOKO instructor Megan Lawson, who played with student Michaela Alvarez, Rachel Pierce, Grace Thain, Kekai Texeira, and Nainoa Hirokane.

“These five are among the bravest and most courageous,” Lawson said. “This is their first public appearance of any kind.”

The group, whose appearance was coordinated through Asaka Herman of the Boys &Girls Club Lihu‘e Clubhouse, waltzed through a medley of Christmas tunes, some traditional and others familiar, to get the audience singing along and getting in the spirit of the family-friendly gathering.

KOKO was surprised when EK Lions Club Treasurer Stephen Fujii presented the group with a $500 award of support for the group that got its beginnings in the Boys &Girls Club.

Ralph Clark of the Marine Corps League said this is the final week of collections for Toys For Tots, adding his appreciation for the overflowing collection box at the Hilton lobby.

“The Lions have been very supportive of Toys For Tots,” Clark said, accepting a $500 award. “I was injured and couldn’t tend to the collection site over the weekend, but the Lions came through with volunteers to keep the site open for contributors. So far this year, we’ve gotten more than 2,000 toys, and this contribution will help get a lot more toys to take care of keiki.”

Kelvin Moniz, a Lion and executive director of the Kaua‘i Independent Food Bank, said the Lions’ $700 award will help to take care of people, especially during the holiday season, while they struggle with how to feed the family, most notably, the children and kupuna.

“We’re not going away,” Moniz said. “We’re there whenever people need us, and we’ll help however way we are able to.”

Silently roaring with excitement and emotion, the Lions sat through the introduction of parents and their children who were diagnosed with diabetes, each keiki receiving a gift card from the Lions to brighten their day in the fight against the disease.

“We serve!” The Lions roared.


Dennis Fujimoto, staff writer and photographer, can be reached at 808-245-0453 or
Source: The Garden Island

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