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Parks and Recreation take Valentine’s on the road

HANAPEPE — The staff at the county’s Department of Parks and Recreation will be on the road through Friday with Valentine’s Day deliveries for Kaua‘i Senior Center clients.

“This is our way of connecting with kupuna during this COVID-19 pandemic,” said Melanie Okamoto, the senior activities coordinator with the Dept. of Parks and Recreation. “Under normal conditions, we would have our Valentine’s Dance at one of the senior centers where everyone gets together for dancing and festivities. We can’t do that with the pandemic, so we’re taking the show on the road.”

More than 200 specially created Valentine’s Day packages were put together by the Dept. of Parks and Recreation in partnership with Na Kupuna Council, Super Duper II ice cream, and the Hawai‘i Foodbank, Kaua‘i Branch for distribution in a drive-through, no-contact format. Packages contained a number of sanitizing PPE, sanitizing supplies, food, and Valentine gifts topped with a to-go bento.

“Look at them,” Okamoto said as carloads of senior center clients rolled into the parking lot ringed with the different distribution points. “They want to stop and talk. A lot of them have been isolated for nearly a year since the pandemic started, and they want something to do. They come riding with friends just to be able and do something.”

Monday marked the start of the week-long distribution at the Hanapepe Neighborhood Center where kupuna with pre-arranged appointments were greeted by the Parks and Recreation staff.

More deliveries will take place for the remainder of the week, ending with the distribution at the Lihu‘e Neighborhood Center on Friday.

“That’s the largest one,” Okamoto said. “They have about a hundred appointments, nearly half of all the packages we put together.”

Last year, the department hosted its annual party at the Kekaha Neighborhood Center where the first indications of the novel coronavirus were starting to make itself known as party and dance guests became acquainted with a lady and her nephew from China who were stuck on Kaua‘i after their flights back to China was canceled and no new flights were anticipated for a few months.

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Dennis Fujimoto, staff writer, can be reached at 245-0453 or dfujimoto@thegardenisland.com.
Source: The Garden Island

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