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West // West Oahu Coverstory
Christina O’Connor

Duo At It Again With Food Drive

Christina Laney Wycheck (back, second from left) and her mother Yumi Laney (front, center in orange) at last year's food drive. They gathered 2,622 pounds of food from their Pearl City neighborhood. This year's drive is planned for Nov. 16. Photo from Christina Laney Wycheck.

Christina Laney Wycheck (back, second from left) and her mother Yumi Laney (front, center in orange) at last year’s food drive. They gathered 2,622 pounds of food from their Pearl City neighborhood. This year’s drive is planned for Nov. 16. Photo from Christina Laney Wycheck.

When she was in high school, Kahala Associates Realtor Christina Laney Wycheck and her family were in need of help from Hawaii Foodbank while her parents were going through a transitional period. When she moved back to the Islands after college, she wanted to find a way to give back.

“I thought of helping the food bank because they had helped us,” said Laney Wycheck.

Now, for the sixth year, Laney Wycheck and her mother Yumi Laney, also a Realtor at Kahala Associates, are conducting a food drive for the food bank in their Pearl City neighborhood.

The mother-daughter team aimed to make it easier for people to donate to Hawaii Foodbank. Laney Wycheck and Laney will go door-to-door this Saturday to drop off bags to 400 Pearl City homes. Then on Nov. 16, with the help of friends and family, they will return to those homes to pick up the filled bags.

“What I always notice is that you always have the food drives at your office and then if you remember to bring the food, then you maybe would just bring one or two, so the amount that you collect is so little,” she said. “I just thought if we actually go to people’s houses, then even if they forget, they can still grab whatever they want out of their cabinet and donate. And if they were to donate a lot, it will just be right outside their door and they won’t have to take it and transport it.

“All they have to do is put the donated items in the bag and leave it out for us,” she explained.

The food bank seeks canned protein (red meat, fish, chicken), canned soups, stews or chili, canned fruit, canned vegetables and bags of rice.

The drive has expanded each year since its inaugural event – going from just a couple dozen homes to a few hundred. Last year, they gathered 2,622 pounds of food.

This year, they also have created a venue for people to donate even if they aren’t among the 400 homes that will receive a bag. From 9 to 11 a.m. Nov. 16, anyone can drop off food donations at Momilani Community Center.

“There are still hundreds more homes that may potentially want to donate,” Laney Wycheck said.

The pair’s work also has inspired another Kahala Associates agent, Aileen Rodriguez-Chizer, to create her own version of the food drive for the Kaimuki/Kapahulu area. This will be Rodriguez-Chizer’s second year participating in the project, and she will distribute 300 bags in her neighborhood.

On top of that, their food drive template has proved to be so successful that Hawaii Foodbank has tapped them as a resource on how to host a neighborhood food drive. Their step-by-step process is available at hawaiifood-bank.org.

Laney Wycheck also has reached out to the Pearl City Community Foundation, Lions clubs, Pearl City Rotary and Pearl City High School’s Key club for volunteers.

“My goal is to get the whole Pearl City community incorporated in some way or the other,” Laney Wycheck said.

Beyond Pearl City, Laney Wycheck also hopes that other communities will get involved. If every community on the island conducted a similar drive, she said, then the food bank would have enough donations to be sustained throughout the year.

Laney Wycheck was able to see the impact that their drive has when they got a tour of the food bank a few years ago during the recession. At the time, the shelves were pretty empty.

“They hardly had any food in stock,” she recalled.

“Us being able to bring in the food … it really meant a lot. We really contributed to this empty place. Toward the end of the year, they run out of food and they run out of money.”

For more information or to get involved with the drive, call Laney Wycheck at 282-1399.

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