Our Islands, Our Future

Major Brian West and his wife, Iva, are celebrating their first Christmas on island as the Salvation Army Maui County Coordinators. This holiday season, the Wests are spearheading a group of volunteers who are seeking pennies and presents to help those most in need on Maui during the holiday season. So far, no good. “Our kettle drive is going a little slower than usual,” West said, referring to the annual Red Kettle Drive. Bell ringing volunteers began the campaign the day before Thanksgiving and after the first week, came up short as much as $1,200 per day compared to the year before.

The traditional Angel Tree gift giving campaign is also underway with the wishes of children from low-income families outlined on paper angel cutouts set up at Queen Kaahumanu Center, Kmart and WalMart. “We’re a little bit concerned about that too,” West said, adding that the normal Angel Tree drive for children in need is not up to par as previous years. “I can’t put my finger on it,” West said. “I don’t know why it’s down…I think we’ve got good greeters and volunteers. The weather’s been good, but we’re still off.” West said he hopes that gift givers are just getting to a slow start.

This year’s Kettle Drive theme: “Sharing is Caring” has always lived up to its name on Maui, West said. The 2011 holiday goal is to raise $165,000 by collecting spare change from people dropping by the red kettles. Collections, if successful, can repeat what 2010’s donations were able to do on Maui:

  • Provide 10,800 bed nights to homeless men.
  • Serve 78,892 meals to homeless men, women and children.
  • Distribute 15,680 hygiene kits to residents in need.
  • Give 34,287 food bags to Salvation Army clients.

Angel Trees will accept gifts for children up until Dec. 19; and the red kettle drive will remain in place up until Christmas Eve. For more information, call 871-6270.