Resort Rallies To Continue Outreach

Residents and employees of Ko Olina Resort are gearing up for their 14th annual Ko Olina Thanksgiving Outreach from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. Nov. 17 at various West side churches.

Started by Ko Olina Charities, a nonprofit created by the resort, the event serves more than 4,000 Thanksgiving meals – complete with turkey, dressing, mashed potatoes, yams, pies and more – to residents in need by teaming up with churches from Waianae, Maili, Nanakuli, Kapolei, Ewa Beach, Waipahu and Pearl City.

“It started out small and just kind of grew over the years,” said Sweetie Nelson of Sheila Donnelly and Associates, which oversees Ko Olina Charities’ marketing and special events.

This year, however, there was some doubt that the event would happen at all, as the longtime coordinator no longer lives at Ko Olina. But thanks to resort residents and employees, this year’s outreach may be one of the largest yet.

“This year, we actually are going to have a larger contingency of volunteers,” Nelson explained. “We’re involving, actively, representatives from all of the entities in Ko Olina – from Aulani to Ihilani to the golf course to the beach villas. There are representatives from all over coming together to keep this tradition going.

“We also have gotten a few new churches wanting to become involved this year, wanting to be one of the locations.”

For the first time, the volunteers from Ko Olina also will be on site to serve food at the churches.

While Ko Olina Charities organizes the event, it has become a community-wide affair. Culinary students at Leeward Community College prepare the turkey, and UPS volunteers deliver the food to the sites.

“A lot of the community has also contributed monetarily to help offset some of the costs,” Nelson added. “It has become bigger than just Ko Olina now.”

In the future, organizers hope to expand the outreach to additional locations. A couple of churches also bring meals to those living at the beach.

Ko Olina Charities welcomes monetary donations. Send tax-deductible checks to Ko Olina Charities Thanksgiving Outreach, 92-1480 Aliinui Drive, Kapolei, Hawaii 96707. For more information, call Ko Olina Community Association at 671-2512.