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Seniors make lei for Memorial Day

LIHU‘E — The Kaua‘i Veterans Council announced Memorial Day services are Monday, May 30, starting at 10 a.m. at the expanded Kaua‘i Veterans Cemetery in Hanapepe.

That announcement triggered kupuna into action, as the Kaua‘i Retired and Senior Volunteer Program hosted kupuna making lei starting as early as last Friday.

“I’ve got to go to Kaua‘i Museum to get lei,” said Donna Loo, the Kaua‘i RSVP director. “Julie Souza of the Ka‘ahumanu Society and her society sisters made lei and gave them to Uli‘i Castor, who works at the museum. We also got a hundred lei from the Foster Grandparents program, whose members got together over the weekend to sew lei.”

Inside one of the conference rooms in the Lihu‘e Civic Center Pi‘ikoi Building, Kaua‘i RSVP kupuna were busy making ti leaf lei that would be delivered for placement on graves at the cemetery Monday.

“We’ll be here Tuesday, Wednesday, and the last day, Thursday,” said a kupuna lei maker said Monday. “I don’t know. Tuesday is going to be busy because, in addition to making lei, we have the Kaua‘i Independent Food Bank distribution to take care of.”

Loo said in addition to the Kaua‘i RSVP lei makers, the Hawai‘i Government Employees Association Community Action Committee with Loel Kaikua‘ana joined the effort of making lei and prepping ti leaves so the kupuna would have material to work with.

“I didn’t get the memo,” Loo said. “The HGEA people were doing this Friday night while graduations were taking place. But they’ll be getting together to add to their collection of lei through Thursday.”

Loo said this is the second year the Kaua‘i RSVP kupuna and HGEA members are doing the lei project after learning last year that because of the pandemic restrictions and guidelines and the ongoing cemetery expansion construction, a lot of the suppliers for graveyard decorations were not doing it.

The Kaua‘i RSVP and HGEA jumped in to help efforts from groups like Grand Hyatt Kaua‘i Resort & Spa to ensure that as many graves could be decorated as possible.

“The kupuna loved doing this,” Loo said. “Now we’re making a tradition of this. Last year, we made about a thousand lei. This year? They’re looking at making at least two thousand, or as many as they can.”

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

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