The 2012-13 school year begins for most of Maui County schools on Monday, July 30. For far too long, it's been a quiet reality that as many as 75 percent of Maui County elementary school children report for their first day of school with few or none of the supplies required for their grade level.
And more surprisingly, many don't even have shoes. Regardless of their family situation at home, our children deserve to have all the tools they need to obtain a quality education. Our teachers do what they can, but they cannot solve this problem. It is up to a caring community.
What is even more heartbreaking is that many of the children eligible for various government programs that provide free or low-cost school lunches cannot even enter the cafeteria to eat lunch because they don't have shoes (a federal regulation).
Many principals try to maintain a supply of "loaner" slippers so the children can have a decent lunch, but the "loaners" are rarely returned. The keiki keep them because they have no other footwear. This prevents other children in need from being able to borrow slippers so they can have lunch. So, Maui's keiki take "shifts" and borrow each other's shoes or slippers so they can eat.
To help mitigate this ongoing problem, the Maui County chapter of Street Bikers United (SBU) Hawai'i will sponsor the 2012 "Tools-4-Tots" school supply drive on Saturday and Sunday, July 21 and 22, at five Maui County locations with the support of generous local corporate sponsors--K-Mart in Kahului, Lahaina Cannery Mall, Molokai Youth Center (Saturday only), and at times and locations yet to be determined in Hana and on Lana'i.
SBU is aware of similar fundraising efforts by other organizations targeting this issue, and we welcome any and all community support for this cause. [Editor's note: See "Maui Rotary Clubs Join Forces to Provide School Supplies" on page 15.] But we are not in competition; rather, we are all working in concert to solve this unacceptable situation.
Please find it in your hearts and your wallets to make a donation to the Tools-4-Tots child sponsorship drive as a business, club, organization or individual.
I especially appeal to the affluent and to the churches countywide. Speak of this during your Sunday service or at your next board meeting.
Of all of the causes that we are asked to support each year, this one should be at or near the top of your list. It's for our keiki--our future leaders and decision-makers.
To sponsor a child, sign up a child for this program, or for updated information on the Hana and Lana'i locations, visit sbumaui.org, or call the 24-hour, "live person" toll-free hotline at (800) 727-9319.