working with malama maunalua. Photo: kelli bullock
Getting my daughter to put away her art supplies is a daily struggle. So if you told me that I would find more than 30 kids eagerly dusting, polishing and vacuuming, and if you told me they wouldn't want to stop, chances are I wouldn't believe you.
But it happened. Our first ever Volunteer Day was held last January. HONOLULU Family worked with five nonprofits that serve O‘ahu families year round to create opportunities for little ones to give back to the groups that give so much to them. And they did. More than 200 kids and their parents signed up to help out.
One big group waded into the water to clear invasive algae with Mālama Maunalua. In two hours of work, the kids removed 1,875 pounds while spotting crabs, fish and other sea creatures along the way.
“Adrian loved pulling up the ogo,” says Barbara Bumatay Picayo about her 4-year-old son. “We made up a song, ‘Go, go ogo,' and he was so proud to tell anybody who would listen what he did that day.”
In downtown Honolulu, our volunteers were treated to a behind-the-scenes tour of Tenney Theatre before they tackled the building with brooms, polishing cloths and vacuums and painted scenery to get the stage set for Honolulu Theatre for Youth's first show of the year.
“My daughter loved being able to go on stage and see the Honolulu Theatre for Youth set before the cleaning started,” says Lani Watson, mother of 6-year-old Kaila. “After our shift ended, we got a snack, and when she was fine she said, ‘Can we go back to polishing the arms in the seats?' She wanted to do more!”
Our youngest volunteers decorated planters at the Hawai‘i Children's Discovery Center. The planters went to brighten up the homes of families benefitting from Habitat for Humanity. Another group pulled weeds and cleared the paths and gardens at the Hawai‘i Nature Center.
“I liked that the emphasis of the event was on the children's contributions and work. It made my son feel like what he did was very special!” says Tiffany Iiga Mineshima.
This year, HONOLULU Family is excited to partner again with Mālama Maunalua, the Honolulu Theatre for Youth and other amazing groups that joined us last year. But we are working with more organizations to expand the activities you can choose for you and your child. We are also making the work sessions longer than one hour, because so many who volunteered last year said their kids wanted more time.
The goal, however, has not changed: to give families a fun and easy way to introduce their kids to giving back. Every session keeps kids active, is in a family-friendly area so if your child loses focus and just starts running around, everyone around you understands!) And, most important, every opportunity has a tangible result. When kids can see what they've done—whether it's visiting the seats they cleaned at Theatre for Youth show or driving by a cleaner Maunalua Bay—they can truly feel accomplished and inspired to help again.
HONOLULU Family Volunteer Day is set for Saturday, January 14, 2017.