By Wendy Osher
The Maui Hotel and Lodging Association is extending it’s hospitality to the community this holiday season with heaps of rice and a senior feast.
The MHLA hosts its annual Kupuna Dinner tonight at the Wailuku Community Center.
The festive event represents the Maui visitor industry’s way of giving back and honoring the senior citizens in the community. This year, the group will be providing a holiday feast for 500 Kupuna, more than in years past.
The Velma McWayne Santos Community Center in Wailuku will be transformed into an elegant dining hall with a holiday feast provided by more than a dozen hotel and resort properties on Maui.
In addition to industry coordination, student interns from UH Maui College, and high school students from the Academy of Hospitality & Tourism, will serve as volunteers for the event.
The Kupuna Dinner is just one of the many ways the MHLA is helping out during the holidays. The association also coordinates the annual distribution of 25,000 pounds of rice in its “Rice for the Holidays” campaign.
“The visitor industry is honored to give back to the residents of Maui, Molokai and Lanai. Rice is a staple for many and we hope to touch as many lives as possible with a donation of 5,000 bags of rice during this holiday season,” said MHLA Executive Director, Carol Reimann.
The order was placed by Costco for 10 pallets of 5-pound bags of rice, with inter-island shipping provided by Young Brothers. Transportation, trucking and ferry service to the outer islands of Lanai and Molokai was provided by Island Movers, Lanai Trucking, Molokai’s Friendly Market Center, and Expeditions.
On Lanai, the MHLA distributed 1,000 bags of rice, while Jim and Rand Coon of Trilogy passed out 1,000 turkeys. The event on Saturday, November 19th also included participation from the Bank of Hawaii, Young Brothers, Maui Mayor Alan Arakawa, and the Maui Fire and Police Departments.
The rice distribution for Molokai took place on Saturday, December 3, with assistance from members of the Molokai Chamber of Commerce Foundation. A total of 1,000 bags of rice were distributed during the annual “Happy Holidays Molokai Style” event.
Here on Maui, 1,400 bags of rice were donated to the Maui Food Bank; and another 1,400 bags were donated to Feed My Sheep. Both social service agencies provide food for Maui’s under-served and needy populations.
Expanding its reach this year, the MHLA also took 100 bags to Hana and distributed the items on Saturday, December 3, with the help of friends from Travaasa Hana Resort and Hale Hulu Mamo.
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