Central Teens Gain National Recognition For Charity Efforts

Kayla Kawamura

Kayla Kawamura

Two Central Oahu students were honored last week for their volunteer efforts with a cash prize and a trip to Washington, D.C.

Kayla Kawamura, 17, of Mililani, and Hannah Button, 14, of Waialua, were named Hawaii’s top youth volunteers by Prudential Spirit of Community Awards, a nationwide program honoring young people for outstanding acts of volunteerism.

Kawamura, a senior at Hanalani Schools, launched a service project with a friend, called The Greatest Gift. The goal was to assemble Christmas goody bags for children at a local homeless shelter and raise money to aid people in Third World countries.

Kawamura asked family and friends to donate money to buy farm animals and food for impoverished families through World Vision, a Christian humanitarian organization. She then made arrangements to meet her goal to provide goody bags for children at a local homeless shelter.

Button, an eighth-grader at Trinity Lutheran School, raised money for an event that honored U.S. service members killed in combat, and helped start a foundation with her older brother and sister after their mother was diagnosed with breast cancer.

She didn’t stop there. After witnessing a friend’s tearful reunion with her father upon his return from deployment, Button started Operation Holiday Heroes, which purchased Christmas gifts for sick and injured soldiers, veterans and their families staying at Tripler

Medical Center’s Fisher House. She even raise money to supply American flags, drinking water and portable toilets for Fisher House’s remembrance run, which honored the 6,728 Americans killed in action since Sept. 11, 2001.

As state honorees, Kawamura and Button each will receive $1,000, an engraved silver medallion and an all-expense-paid trip in early May to Washington, D.C. They will join the top two honorees from each state and the District of Columbia for four days of national recognition events.