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Lifestyle // Good Neighbors
Christina O’Connor

Loveland Academy Students

Photo courtesy Alexandra Choyce

Once a week, Rachel, Kylie, Margaret, Jessica and Pili (pictured above)

-a group of students at Loveland Academy in Makiki meet as a part of a girls’ group at the school. Loveland Academy is a mental health day treatment facility that provides services including speech, occupational and mental health therapy, and academic classes for students with special needs. These five girls range in age from 14 to 20, and the group works on problem-solving, social interaction and communication. Recently, though, they have been focusing on helping others by organizing fundraisers for various organizations. The idea came a couple of months ago after the girls had raised money for their group’s activities.

“That worked out really well … and so we talked about doing another fundraiser to benefit others” says Kristine Rodriguez, a mental health provider and case manager at Loveland who co-facilitates the group with Nichole Rowles. The girls discussed people in need, and hunger and homelessness struck a chord. For their first effort, the girls decided to raise money for Hawaii Foodbank and Catholic Charities. Conducting a bake sale on campus, the girls raised $80. With the money, they bought $40 worth of food for the food bank and $40 worth of toys for Catholic Charities.

“We purchased food like sausage and saimin, and we purchased toys like blocks and Play-Doh,” Kylie explains.

Recently, the girls conducted another bake sale to raise money for Hawaiian Humane Society for the animals’ shelter, food and medical care.

“We raised $86,” Rachel says. “We wanted to help the animals.”

For both of the fundraisers, the girls had to coordinate everything from baking items for the sale to facilitating the event itself.

“We had to decide whom to help, decide how to earn money, make posters and set up the price list for the fundraiser,” Pili says.

Once the fundraiser was complete, the girls personally delivered their donations to the organizations. Jessica, Kylie, Margaret, Pili and Rachel look forward to similar projects in the future.

“It’s fun because I get to cook and be with the girls,” Jessica says.

“I am happy to help the hungry families and kids,” Margaret adds.

“We try to do hands-on projects like this so that the girls are actually able to apply those skills in a real-life situation,” Rodriguez says. “This is a nice project because it encompasses so many different goal areas that we are working on in and outside of the therapy groups … I am very proud of them for their hard work … and the efforts they have put into it and their willingness to help others,” Rodriguez says.

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