May 31, 2020
By Dennis Fujimoto The Garden Island | Sunday, May 31, 2020
HANAPEPE — Yes, even Santa (also known as Phil Worwa) had to don a fabric face mask Saturday when he joined members of the multi-agency Salt Pond Beach Park outreach during the group’s visit to the park’s houseless population in compliance with social-distancing and face-masks rules.
“Normally, I volunteer with the Police, Pastors &Platters,” Santa said. “But I couldn’t pass this opportunity up to see the keiki at Salt Pond. When I first moved here, I used to come here daily before going to work to pick up rubbish and help keep the place clean. I met and made many friends here.”
Coordinated by the Lili‘uokalani Trust and Kamehameha Schools, the outreach effort got partnership help from the King’s Chapel with food for the snack bags, the Keiki to Career program for an assortment of age-appropriate books for reading and activity, and Santa, who distributed age-appropriate goody bags from Gather Federal Credit Union.
“We pooled together our resources to provide some activities for the keiki and their families,” said Nannie Ann Apalla of Keiki to Career. “The King’s Chapel does a food distribution to the Salt Pond community on a monthly basis. During these distributions, it was noted that there are keiki living down at the beach as well.”
Santa said that, now that school is over, the keiki need things to do. The Saturday outreach was the first one, with organizers studying to see the response to determine if more need to be presented.
“My family said to bring these to you,” a keiki approached Santa, bottles of iced water overflowing his arms against a backdrop of squeals of delight from keiki investigating their packages in the safety of camp. “And, they said, ‘you cannot say ‘no.’”
One of the goals of the Lili‘uokalani Trust was to encourage families to use the Luminaids, a portable, solar-charged light provided by the trust, when reading books and doing other family activities.
“It floats if you accidentally get it in the water,” said Andie Stoll-Tolentino, unpacking one of the award-winning portable lights. “It’s really easy — you let the sunlight charge it, and to use, you simply unpack it and hang it up. It even has several different functions you can set the light for.”
Erin Cobb-Adams of the Kamehameha Schools said a lot of the educational material presented is Hawai‘i-based.
“A lot of the material has to do with ocean,” Cobb-Adams said, unaware that World Oceans Day is being observed Monday, June 8. “The artist who did the mural on the Kaua‘i Habitat for Humanity building also has pages in a coloring book. We copied some of those images to have for the keiki.”