This time last year our team set a lofty goal of supporting 70,000 individuals in the community through our Kōkua Initiative. We are happy to say that not only did we meet that goal but we have surpassed it and have been able to impact over 115,000 lives.
In efforts to support literacy in our schools, we participated in 4 book drives, including one on the beach at Dukeʻs Oceanfest where we received over 200 books in just 2 days! Our team also built and stocked a Little Library for the keiki of the YWCA Preschool in Hilo.
Through the donation of water, books, art kits, and supplies we were able to support families in need, Maui wildfire relief efforts, community organizations, the houseless community, the most vulnerable in our community, our keiki through schools and literacy efforts, and more we were able to show up for our community however they needed us.
Our Waiākea Ambassador ʻOhana is so committed to supporting our community and this year Aaron Kai partnered with us to provide over 155 youth with arts kits fully equipped with markers, pens, sketch pads, and more! Not only did we provide them with the tools to create art, but Kai brought them onto two different mural projects that he had in Hilo. The kids painted while bonding with Aaron all day and were later able to show their ʻohana what their hard work had accomplished.
The houseless population in Hawaiʻi grows every day, and itʻs an unfortunate reality that so many of those individuals struggling with the challenges of being houseless are native Hawaiian. In partnership with the Neighborhood Place of Puna, we sponsored the support of 5 mini homes for their program. Through those homes over 240 individuals were given resources, support, and shelter throughout the year.
There are so many vulnerable and struggling families here in Hawaiʻi and over 40% of our population are living in poverty. We focused our efforts on how to support those who are most vulnerable through partnerships with amazing organizations like Hawaiʻi Diaper Bank, Kapena School of Music, Laulima Giving Program, Teddyʻs for Hope, and more.
This year was also filled with both extreme loss and community unification in support of those affected by the Maui wildfires. On August 8th, 2023 two separate areas of Maui were set ablaze that took the lives of 115 people and destroyed more than 2,000 homes. In addition, the disaster area had more than 800 business establishments with about 7,000 employees. The community of Hawaiʻi rallied together to make sure that those affected by this tragedy were supported and loved as they processed all of this grief.
All of our efforts immediately turned toward those families and began collecting and purchasing items to send to Maui. During the first two weeks, we sent over 3700 cases of water, clothing, diapers, tents, radios, and more. We have since adopted 8 families in which we are committed to continue to support them with supplies and water as they need it.
This year has been incredibly fulfilling and we arenʻt done yet! In 2024 we are setting a goal of supporting 80,000 people. From ʻāina restoration events, animal rescue efforts, health and wellness education, community capacity building, emergency relief efforts and lots and lots of water we're going to do all we can to empower and uplift our community all year long. Every purchase of Waiākea water in stores and online contributes to the Kōkua Initiative and all of the community givebacks we get to do. Mahalo for being a part of this journey and making a difference with your purchase. We want to take you with us on our 2024 giveback journey.
Follow @waiakeakokua for all of the updates!