As we should all know, the 2013-14 school year begins for most Maui County schools on or about August 5th, and a quiet reality is that as many as 75 percent of Maui County elementary school students – kindergarten through 5th grade – report for their first day of school with little or none of the supplies that are required for their grade level. And more surprisingly, many don’t even have shoes.
Regardless of their situations at home, our children deserve to have all of the tools that they need to begin a quality education. Our teachers do what they can and they deserve more credit than can be bestowed on them here, but our teachers cannot solve this problem by themselves. It is up to a caring community as a whole.
A net result of our efforts last year revealed the sad and heart wrenching fact that many of the children who are eligible for the various government programs that provide free or low-cost school lunches cannot even enter the cafeteria to eat lunch, due to federal requirements that they have footwear. Many of the principals told us that they try to maintain a supply of loaner slippers so that the children can have a decent lunch, but that the loaners are rarely returned because the child has no other footwear. This prevents other children from being able to borrow a pair of slippers so that they can go have lunch. It was explained that children then tend to take shifts and borrow one another’s shoes or slippers so they can eat. This revelation was both shocking and heartbreaking.
The Maui County chapter of Street Bikers United Hawaii will be sponsoring the 2013 “Tools-4-Tots” school supply drive through August 30th. Last year through our “ground up / hands on” efforts, SBU raised over $6,000.00 and was able to deliver fully stuffed age and gender appropriate back packs stuffed with supplies AND RUBBA SHOES to approximately 50 children on Molakai, 45 to Hana and over 300 throughout other areas of Maui with emphasis on the homeless shelters and public housing projects. And while our efforts this year are not as robust as our efforts of 2012 were due to logistical difficulties, this is an important cause for our entire county and worthy of some measure of effort by all of us. SBU, a 501C-3 tax exempt organization, will distribute the funds directly to those shelters, families and other groups associated with the school supply drive effort.
To make a tax deductible donation, please visit our website or mail a donation to SBU Maui, P.O. Box 532640, Kihei HI 96753. A printable receipt for your tax records will be provided. Please find it in your heart and your wallets to make a tax deductible donation for our keiki’s sake today. After all, they are our future leaders and decision makers. Together, we can provide them the tools that they need to succeed.
Ron Panzo, President
Street Bikers United Hawaii,
Maui County chapter