LAHAINA - According to Jake Jacobus, "For far too long, it's been a quiet reality that as many as 75 percent of Maui County elementary school children, grades K through 5, report for their first day of school with little or none of the supplies that are required for their grade level. And, more surprisingly, many don't even have shoes."
To help equip students for the 2012-13 school year that begins July 30, the Maui County Chapter of Street Bikers United Hawaii (SBU) will sponsor the 2012 "Tools-4-Tots" school supply drive on Saturday and Sunday, July 21-22, at Lahaina Cannery Mall, K-Mart, Molokai Youth Center (Saturday only) and sites in Hana and Lanai.
In related news, the West Maui Lions Club will hold its fourth annual Slipper Drive on Saturday, July 21, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. in front of Longs Drugs at Lahaina Cannery Mall. All slippers will be distributed to West Maui elementary schools to give to students who need them.
West Maui Lions Secretary Linda Elms said the group expects to collect more than 400 pairs of slippers.
"All Lions Clubs of Maui will also drop off slippers and donations. We want this to be a huge success and one of our largest slipper drives, so we need support from our community. Please stop by and drop off slippers or make a contribution, so we can make sure our children are taken care of should they break their slippers during school or need slippers to wear."
For information, contact Elms at 276-1191.
Jacobus, the president of SBU's Maui County Chapter, noted, "Regardless of their family situation at home, our children deserve to have all of the tools that they need to begin a quality education! Our teachers do what they can, and they deserve more credit than can be bestowed on them here, but our teachers cannot solve this problem. It is up to a caring community!
"What is even more heartbreaking is that many of the children that are eligible for the various government programs that provide free or low-cost school lunches for our needy children cannot even enter the cafeteria to eat their lunch (due to federal standards) without footwear," he continued.
"Many of the principals have told us that they try to maintain a supply of 'loaner' slippers, so that the children can have a decent lunch, but that the loaners are rarely returned, because the child has no other footwear and tend to keep them. This prevents other needy children from being able to borrow a pair of slippers so they can go have lunch. Our children then tend to take shifts and borrow each other's shoes or slippers so they can eat. This is just unacceptable!"
To sponsor a child, register a youngster for this program or for updated information on the Hana and Lanai locations, visit www.sbumaui.org or call 1-800-727-9319.
Jacobus concluded, "Of all of the causes that we are asked to support each year, this one should be at or near the top of your list. It's for our keiki's sake."