This November, the Kōkua Initiative hosts a Book & Food Drive

Over the past seven months, the Kōkua Initiative at Waiākea has donated 971 books to local students.  On November 6th, you can help push that total beyond a thousand books at the upcoming Book & Food Drive at KTA Puainako, which will benefit students from kindergarten to the sixth grade. 

This event is a community effort made possible in partnership with volunteers from the Hawai'i Diaper Bank, the Hilo Crescent City Lions Club, and Old Navy.  The Kōkua Initiative will match every book donation for each age appropriate new or gently used book. 

Book donations will be given to students at Hilo Union Elementary School and the impact of this reaches beyond our Hilo Community.  Students from the Hāmākua Coast commute to Hilo town and call Hilo Union their home.

"I want every child to have the opportunity to have exposure to books and literacy.  Not based on money or dependent upon someone having to take them to the library." Geoli Nawahiekaluaopele Ng, Director of the Kōkua Initiative at Waiãkea, explains. "These books will allow keiki to build their home libraries where they can access the books at anytime without leaving the comforts of their home."

"When I was younger, I remember realizing that I needed to push myself when learning to read, and at times that was challenging."  Geoli reflects.  "Having lots of books at home really helped to peek my interest and push me to discover the stories within."

It goes deeper than just giving our keiki the opportunity to read and own their own books for Geoli who has 27 years of experience in education and holds a Bachelor's Degree in Early Childhood Education with a Minor in Family Life Studies. 

“From birth to age eight is the key time to really promote literacy for keiki. Literacy and communication go hand-in-hand,” Geoli emphasizes, "reading not only expands the imagination, but it also increases literacy skills, which impacts comprehension skills and the ability to ask questions for greater clarity. As a community, the more opportunities keiki have at their fingertips to get their hands on a book, the better. Increased literacy skills also has a lasting impact on a student's overall health and social well-being, along with increased confidence and higher self-esteem.”

Supporting efforts like these extend beyond a child’s formative years.  Reading plays a key role in most adult employment and  “continued personal achievement The Reading Foundation reports on its website.  

The Kōkua Initiative at Waiākea Book Drive benefits students across the Big Island.

The Book Drive for Hilo Union Elementary School is being held in conjunction with Waiākea’s monthly Food Drive for the Hawai'i Island Food Basket on Saturday, November 6th, from 8:00am - 11:00am at KTA Puainako.  

"Having a book to call your own, to read and reread, or pass on to a friend is impactful for keiki.  Growing up, I loved the characters in some of my books so much that I reread the book several times before sharing it with a friend."  Geoli shares. "I wouldn't have had that opportunity to develop my love of reading if I didn't have the opportunity to own my books in my younger years."