Categorized | Education, Featured, Volunteering

Backpack drive for kids project underway

Backpack drive has police backup


Nani Welch Keliihoomalu with some of the donated backpacks.


Three years ago Nani Welch Keliihoomalu, 10, had a simple idea: to share used books with other kids. In a short time she and a team of friends had filled the family garage with more than 1,000 volumes, and decided to expand their “From Kids for Kids” project to include backpacks, art supplies and kids’ clothes.

For the second year in a row, Police Chief Harry S. Kubojiri has generously offered support, providing drop-off points at police stations around the island. The annual backpack drive takes place through the month of September, but the community may continue to drop off “gently used” books, backpacks, art supplies and children’s clothing throughout the year.

In a recent Honolulu Advertiser story Chief Kubojiri said, “I humbly ask those of you who have usable backpacks your child has replaced and is no longer using to consider donating them to assist those less fortunate in our community.” Backpacks are the most-requested donation item for children’s charities in Hawaii and around the world. Backpacks and other needed items are distributed to women’s shelters and homeless shelters, transitional housing for families, hospitals, health clinics and island schools.

Now 13, Welch Keliihoomalu lives in Waimea and is an 8th-grade student at Hawaii Preparatory Academy. “When I learned that some kids bring all of their clothes and belongings to homeless shelters in garbage bags, it bothered me,” she said. “I felt bad for them, and I’m sure they were embarrassed. I really think that having a new backpack or clothes to wear, especially as a gift from another kid, will make them feel better and more self-confident.” According to North Hawaii Drug-Free Coalition, Self-esteem lessens the risk of anti-social behaviors including substance abuse later in life.

From Kids for Kids is a project of the non-profit organization Five Mountains Hawaii. For more information, or to make a tax deductible financial donation, call (808) 345-1638, or visit



  • Any Hawaii County Police Department


  • Dr. Lyn Lam’s Office, North Hawaii Health Care Group, Hale Ola Pono65-1267 Kawaihae Road
  • Dr. John Stover, North Hawaii Oral and Facial Surgery/North Hawaii Medical Spa 64-1035 Mamalahoa -Highway, Suites I, J and K
  • Hawaii Preparatory Middle School Campus 65-1274 Kawaihae Road
  • Five Mountains Office

Hilo or Kona:

  • Kaiser Permanente Offices

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