Kapolei Student Club Raises Funds For AUW

The Kapolei High School Photo Club presented a check for $1,000 to Aloha United Way's Jay Park (far left). The club spent weeks raising money for the organization, which in turn works to raise funds for Hawaii nonprofits. Photo from Aloha United Way.

Students in the Kapolei High School Photo Club used their time and talents this past Christmas season to raise funds for Aloha United Way.

Not only was this their chance to give back to the community, it also gave the new club members experience raising money.

“We (the club officers) and our adviser Amanda Kim hoped the new members would learn how hard it could be to work for the money we needed to earn, and see how much responsibility was needed to show up to each shift and work day,” explained president Dana Billena.

Other members are Brycen Silva (vice president), Kayla Tacey (secretary), Brandi Liu (treasurer), Charileen Nolasco (treasurer), Kyla Alexander, Dave Aquino, Ciara Aquino, Elizabeth Ceno-Ortiz, Kyara Colo-Valentin, Aryanna Harmon-Thompson, Jerico Juan, Kimi Owens, Mahealani Pudiquet, Tanith Sasaki, Olivis Spencer, Mersediez Szabo, Paisley Tanaka, Lahela Aarona and Micaela Lucero.

Each member worked various shifts at Kapolei High’s Makeke Market for four weeks and sold bags of crispy cinnamon chips to benefit Aloha United Way.

“Our original goal was to raise $1,000 to donate, but even after the four weeks of working at the Makeke Market we still hadn’t raised enough money,” Billena said.

The students were persistent, however. They sponsored a Breakfast with Santa photo shoot Dec. 1 at the school’s cafeteria where families and children could eat a hearty breakfast and take photos with Santa.

Props, including presents, lights, a Christmas tree, Santa chair and more, were set up by club members to give each photo the perfect Christmas background. Afterward, the club edited each image and sent it to the families the same day.

Their valiant efforts allowed the students to raise the desired $1,000 for AUW, which supports dozens of local nonprofit organizations. These funds will be directed to benefit Oahu’s less fortunate senior citizens.

“Aloha United Way applauds the Kapolei High School Photo Club for all of their awesome hard work,” said AUW director of new business development Jay Park. “(They) all are true examples of Hawaii’s aloha spirit.”

And the club hopes to carry on that same aloha spirit in its future fundraising endeavors. Each year, the club gives back to its community with multiple events.

“In the end we all enjoyed looking back at all the hard work we’d done in order to raise all of the money we gave to the Aloha United Way,” Billena said.

“At times it was hard on us to have such a big goal and seeing such little progress, but we kept our word and continued to work hard in order to fulfill our promise.”