Do you remember eagerly waiting, feeling the excitement bubble up inside you, waiting for the “GO!” as you and the other kids race to the yard leaving no bush or stone unturned looking for those colorful Easter eggs? Getting dressed up to take pictures with the Easter Bunny or ready to eat Easter brunch?
Or at the end of a long week knowing that the beloved three-day weekend is waiting for you? Who doesn’t love that extra rest day, a day you can fill with lounging at home or under the sun at the beach?
The various holidays are used to honor what the day represents with the ones you love and care for. We spend these times getting together, having potlucks with all of our aunties and uncles, and relaxing before the start of the next week.
However, the holidays can have a very different look for Hawai‘i’s own homeless keiki. These childhood memories many of us take for granted, are harder to attain. Extended family gatherings are a luxury many homeless family find difficult to plan or even afford. This leads to a more separated family dynamic instead of ‘bringing the village together’ to help raise the child. In a time where the extended community is even more important for the upbringing of a child, it becomes more apparent that it is absent. In turn, the holidays can be even more isolating to the child.
It takes a village to raise a child.
The missed opportunities to interact with their family and engage in fun meaningful activities can also impact their own self-esteem. When the keiki find a bunch of eggs by themselves, finishes that sand castle, or even help others in the process, they are building their own self-esteem and love for one another (kidshealth.org). Starting at a young toddler age, children are developing an understanding of themselves by exploring their environment and interacting with others (raisingchildren.net). These memories and interactions help to further develop the child, but with busy families or families without the resources to put on these holiday events for their kids, homeless keiki lose this cultural enrichment they need.
Aside from missing out on the fun holiday activities, the additional days off of school also brings up a hidden problem. Food.
Over 46% of Hawai‘i students are eligible for free/reduced-price lunch. (National Center for Education Statistics)
During days off, while other families can eat out at restaurants together, many of our homeless keiki have to go without food, sometimes going more than four straight days without a chance to eat. The National School Lunch Program offers Hawai’i public schools the funds to provide these free or reduced meals to children who need it. Skipping so many meals can lead to many developmental problems. Having proper nutrition is extremely important and provides many benefits such as energy to run around with their friends, strengthening their immune system, and reduces the risk of chronic disease (UNICEF, kidsclubchildcare.com).
In light of the Easter holidays very quickly approaching, please help Project Hawai’i and sponsor a homeless keiki this Easter! $20 can fill a basket and offer up the beautiful memories of Easter while $7 can provide a meal during their day away from school.
Mahalo for all of your support!