The 2013-14 school year has begun for most Maui County schools. It's an exciting time for the island's keiki, but sadly, as many as 75 percent of Maui County elementary school students reported for their first day of school with few or none of the supplies that are required for their grade level. And more surprisingly, many don't even have shoes.
Our teachers do what they can to make up for the deficit in supplies, but they cannot solve this problem by themselves. It's up to a caring community.
Part of that caring community again this year is the Maui County Chapter of Street Bikers United (SBU) Hawai'i, which is sponsoring the 2013 "Tools-4-Tots" school supply drive through Friday, Aug. 30.
Maui’s keiki deserve to have all of the tools they need for a quality education.
"A net result of our efforts last year revealed that many of the children who are eligible for various government programs that provide free or low-cost school lunches cannot even enter the cafeteria because they have no shoes," said Jake Jacobus, president of Street Bikers on Maui.
Principals told the biker organization last year that although the schools try to maintain a supply of loaner slippers so students are able to eat a decent lunch, they are rarely returned. Because of this, the children borrow one another's shoes or slippers so they can eat in shifts.
"This revelation was both shocking and heartbreaking," said Jacobus.
Last year, through their ground-up, hands-on efforts, SBU raised over $6,000 and was able to deliver age- and gender-appropriate backpacks fully stuffed with supplies and slippers to approximately 50 children on Molakai, 45 in Hana and over 300 throughout other areas of Maui, with an emphasis on homeless shelters and public housing projects. SBU, a 501(c) (3) tax-exempt organization, distributes funds directly to those shelters, families and other groups associated with the school supply drive effort.
"This is an important cause, worthy of some measure of effort by all of us," said Jacobus. "So please find it in your heart--and your wallet--to make a donation for our keiki's sake today. They are our future leaders and decision-makers, and we must provide them with the tools that they need to succeed."
Make a tax-deductible donation through sbumaui.org/tools or via mail to SBU Maui, P.O. Box 532640, Kihei, HI 96753. (A printable receipt for your tax records will be provided.)