UH Hilo international students and their host families donated various needed items—for example, toothbrushes, soap, crayons, coloring books, and toys—to fill 48 stockings for local homeless keiki.
For years, international students at the University of Hawai‘i at Hilo have been matched with host families to help the students adjust to their new life in Hawai‘i. The Host Family Program helps the students develop a sense of ‘ohana (family) in Hilo.
- Learn more about the program: Host Family Program creates extended ‘ohana (UH Hilo Stories, Sept. 17, 2018)
But that program has been put on hold for the past couple of years due to the pandemic.
“Instead of families in the community ‘adopting’ a student, the students ‘adopted’ kids in the community,” explains Mellon in an email.
The International Student Association partnered with Project Hawai‘i, Inc., a nonprofit organization that provides services to over 1,600 individual homeless children annually across the islands of O‘ahu, Maui and Hawai‘i Island. The nonprofit is currently collecting holiday stockings for homeless children.
This year, UH Hilo international students and host families donated various needed items—for example, toothbrushes, soap, crayons, coloring books, and toys—to fill 48 of those stockings. The students stuffed the stockings on Saturday, Dec. 4, at Ainaola Park. Project Hawai‘i will distribute them to children in Hawai‘i Island homeless communities over the holidays.
The weather was stormy on Saturday as a wintery “kona low” sweeps through the state, but the students stuck to the task. “Unfortunately, we were in a rush at the end because the rain started getting heavy and we didn’t take a group photo,” says Mellon.
Instead, like Santa’s elves, they were busy stuffing stockings.
On the Project Hawai‘i Facebook page, the nonprofit notes, “Even in the rainy weather the UH Hilo International students group is busy assembling stockings for our homeless keiki on Big Island.. mahalo for taking this weekend to make a difference in the lives of our homeless keiki.”
Even in the rainy weather the UH Hilo International students group is busy assembling stockings for our homeless keiki on Big Island.. mahalo for taking this weekend to make a difference in the lives of our homeless keiki. Project Hawai’i, Inc. Christmas Wish program will sponsor over 650 homeless keiki on Big Island this year… your impact matters! #studentgroups #fillastocking #helpahomelesskeiki #hilohomeless #makingadifference #studentservices #fillingstockings #bethechange #servicepeoject #projecthawaiiinc @projecthawaiiinc @uhhilo @uhmanoanews
Despite the weather, the event was a grand success.
“It has been a great way for the international students to give back to the local community that has been so welcoming to them over the years,” says Mellon.
On Facebook, the UH Hilo International Student Association also posted a few photographs of the stocking-stuffing event.
“Mahalo to those who helped make Christmas stockings, as well as those who donated the items for the stockings,” posted the organizers. “48 stockings are now ready for the homeless children in Hilo.”
“Mahalo to those who donated items and to those who spent Saturday afternoon stuffing the stockings,” posted the group. “UH Hilo international students are always willing to give back to the local community as they pursue their degrees on the island #helpthehomelesskeiki #projecthawaiiinc #bethelight.”
UH Hilo International Student Association
The International Student Association is UH Hilo’s student club for international students and others who are interested in other cultures and peoples. The club engages in social and recreational activities throughout the year, performs service to the campus and local community, and organizes educational events. Each year, the association presents International Nights, two nights of performances showcasing the many different cultures represented at UH Hilo.
UH Hilo offers a wide variety of programs for international students. For more information, visit the International Student Services website.
By Susan Enright, a public information specialist for the Office of the Chancellor and editor of UH Hilo Stories. She received her bachelor of arts in English and certificate in women’s studies from UH Hilo.