About five years ago, Bruce Bucky, owner and president/CEO of Hildgund Jewelry of Hawaii, got a phone call from a man who had been struggling with substance abuse. The man told Bucky what he had been through, and detailed how he was now receiving treatment at Habilitat, a Kaneohe-based drug and alcohol rehabilitation program. The man had been calling to inform others about the program, and Bucky was impressed.
“What I like about it is when people are in Habilitat, they are trained to do different things,” Bucky says. “It keeps them moving forward … and once they are rehabilitated, they can get back into the world with the additional skills they have.”
After that phone call, Bucky decided to get involved with fundraising activities for Habilitat, including its annual Christmas tree sales. The money earned from the sales help Habilitat pay for scholarships and operational costs. But rather than buy a tree for his own home, Bucky spends thousands of dollars for Habilitat to donate trees to a different public housing facility each year, in order to provide trees to families that might not be able to afford one otherwise. This year’s donation of 75 trees took place last Sunday at Kam IV Housing in Kalihi.
Bucky also has been spreading holiday cheer in a myriad of other ways. In the past, Hildgund Jewelry conducted a holiday jewelry scavenger hunt giveaway. In place of that this year, Bucky will be acting as a secret Santa of sorts. He has been working with a local big-box store to pay off toys and clothes that customers have on layaway. The customers will get a call saying that their items have been paid for, but Bucky will remain anonymous.
“You look at some of the layaways, and they have been paying for months and months and months, and the balance is $15,” he says. “It tells you that $15 to you or me is one thing, but $15 to a lot of people is a lot of money.”
Bucky has been doing a range of charitable work for years, starting about 20 years ago when he, his wife and daughter would feed homeless people at a downtown shelters. At the time, he says, he didn’t have much money to give, so they gave of their time instead. Over the years, he also has worked with organizations that include the Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation, Hawaiian Humane Society and Children’s Alliance of Hawaii.
But Bucky remains modest about his many contributions – and is reluctant to even talk about his charitable work.
“It is really all about the idea of giving, not about talking about it,” he says. “But maybe somebody else will get an idea of something they could do.
“The bottom line is – maybe it is kind of selfish – I want to make people happy, but at the same time … it makes me happy,” he says. “At this time of year especially, I am blessed to be able to make a difference.”