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Special delivery of Mother’s Day gift bags


Mother’s Day is usually a happy occasion, but not for everyone. Some families simply don’t have the resources to buy or make a gift for the mother figure in their life.

That’s why the Child Welfare Services Branch (CWS), Hawaii Women’s Legal Foundation (HWLF) and Hawaii Women Lawyers (HWL) again, have joined forces to deliver gift bags to needy children across the state.

Those children will then give the gifts to someone special who might otherwise go uncelebrated.

CWS staff delivers the gift bags to their clients during home visits. Staff provides gift bags for foster children to give to their mothers and to their resource parents. If a mother has 4 children who are in foster care, CWS gives each child a gift bag to give their mother. The bags contain toiletries and cosmetics donated by individuals and companies.

“We do this for the children,” says Karen Char, HWLF and HWL’s Mother’s Day Project Coordinator. “We want the children to have gifts to give on Mother’s Day.”

For the past decade HWLF and HWL have been collecting and organizing the donations in Char’s home. Char says it takes eight weekends to complete the gift bags. And, during that time every room in her house, except a few private living spaces, is overflowing with colorful gift items.

This year 90 people from the legal community and John A. Burns School of Medicine (JABSOM) volunteered to sort and stuff 2,300 gift bags. The JABSOM volunteers will deliver gift bags to the Kakaako Next Step homeless shelter where they hold clinics.

Hawaiian Air Cargo also supports the Mother’s Day Project. This year it shipped 22 boxes with 557 gift bags, free of charge, to the neighbor islands so that mothers there could receive a gift.

One of those mothers is Mrs. S who lives in Kona and picks coffee. For the first time in years, all eight of her children – ranging in age from 2 to 13 years old – will be home to celebrate Mother’s Day. Seven of the children spent time in foster care and the last two returned to the family home in April 2012.

Thanks to the Mother’s Day Project all six girls and both boys say they are very excited and eager to “surprise” their mother this Sunday with a gift.

The all-volunteer Mother’s Day Project was the brainchild of former Department of Human Services Deputy Director Elizabeth Kent.

“We’re giving a gift to a child who gives it away,” Kent said. “There’s so much giving, and this is the best way to share, pass on and leverage resources.”

To date, the Mother’s Day Project has distributed almost 19,000 gift bags to needy children across Hawaii.

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