On February 26, 2021, more than 100 College of Education (COE) teacher candidates were treated to care packages assembled and distributed by COE faculty and staff, two chapters of Alpha Delta Kappa (Nu and Xi), and members of the Pearl Harbor Rotary Club. Thanks to the outpouring of support and donations, this pilot college-community effort will continue with a second phase in April, expanding and reaching more future teachers.
Under the direction of Dr. Kuʻulei Serna, Director of the COE School of Teacher Education (STE) Elementary Education Program, Project Kākoʻo‘s inspiration came about when Serna’s daughter received a care bag from the UHM College of Tropical Agriculture and Human Resources (CTAHR) where she is a freshman in the Fashion Design and Merchandising program.
“These bags seemed like a tangible way of showing our admiration and appreciation for the way our students have persevered through this pandemic,” Serna shared. “We are also very grateful for all of the community partners, faculty, staff, students, and retired educators who assisted us with safely organizing and packing. I especially want to mahalo the coordination efforts of Dr. Alohilani Okamura and Kristen Ferrer for this beautiful event.”
Okamura, a faculty member in STE Secondary, was instrumental in securing donations and volunteers. She is a member of Alpha Delta Kappa, an international honorary organization of women educators dedicated to educational excellence, altruism, and world understanding.
“In the true spirit of aloha, Project Kākoʻo was proposed to acknowledge our teacher candidates’ commitment to the teaching profession and to provide support during Covid-19,” Okamura stated. “These goodie bag/survival kits were thoughtfully created and made possible through generous donations from more than a hundred individual and group donors.”
Each student received two bags – one filled with food and drink items and another filled with pandemic safety supplies. Senior citizens at the Lanakila Multi-Purpose Senior Center donated handmade face masks, which were enclosed with a note thanking the students for “entering a very noble profession and for choosing a career that has the potential positive impact on the people of Hawaiʻi and abroad for generations to come.”
Okamura set up a Padlet post where participants could share messages to the donors. Teacher Candidate Ashley Wong posted, “Thank you so much to everyone who put this together and helped make this happen. The care packages, notes of encouragement, and the individual name tags are all so sweet and cute! This will really help me to push through this semester. Once again, thank you so much!”