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Maui Group Organizes Lei of Aloha for Florida Families

February 20, 2018, 9:36 AM HST · Updated February 20, 9:42 AM
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A group from Maui is once again coming together to create a Lei of Aloha for World Peace, this time engaging schools across the state to weave ti leaf leis to send to the families of the 17 students and teachers killed in Parkland, Florida last week.

The Lei of Aloha for Las Vegas. PC: Stacey Moniz

“We wanted to bring the schools together, to weave their love and aloha into the lei and we will send a delegation of students and teachers to make the presentations in Florida,” organizer, Ron Panzo said.  “We want to do a total of 18 lei, a total of nearly two and a half miles, each one about an eighth of a mile long, one for each life taken and one to present at the school itself.”

The Lei of Aloha was created in 2015 after terrorists bombed Paris and a few people on Maui decided that they wanted to spread the gift of ALOHA by weaving a one mile long lei to send to Paris.

Lei for Paris. Photo credit: Timothy Lara.

In 2016, when tragedy struck again at Pulse nightclub, hundreds of Maui volunteers gathered to weave a lei for the people of Orlando and again in 2017 for the people of Las Vegas and for the staff at Mandalay Bay Hotel.

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Each lei takes many hands and the Lei for Parkland has an even larger scope with students, teachers and volunteers coming together to weave the lei.

Historically, the Lei of Aloha team has steered clear of the political analysis of gun violence, using the mile long lei as a “symbolic hug.”  It is intended to spread the message that “even thousands of miles away, we are connected.”

“This time, however, inspired by the words of one of the victims who challenges us all to get involved, the Lei of Aloha for World Peace will stand in solidarity with the victims, survivors and communities across the country in demanding gun law reforms,” according to organizers.

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“When will enough be enough?” said Panzo.  “We can no longer just offer up the lei and our aloha, our message must be stronger. Like the young woman in the video said, we need to be the change we wish to see. We need to stand strong with them and demand a change. Lei of Aloha will be there with them and connect them to the people of Hawaiʻi.”

Organizers from Maui arrived in Honolulu on Monday, Feb. 19, for a meeting at Roosevelt High School.

The group willstart weaving at 17 schools across the state today, and hope to have everything in place to leave on Saturday.

“There will be many ways to help,” said Stacey Moniz, another volunteer organizer. “We are asking for support from airline tickets, car rentals, ti leaves, time and talent or you can donate via our Go Fund Me account. You can even weave your lei at home and drop off your portion at one of the schools. There are so many ways you can help.”

Some of the schools who are committed so far include: Kamaliʻi Elementary, Seabury Hall and Maui Charter Schools from Maui. Campbell HS, Pearl City HS, ʻIolani HS, Kamehameha, Kalani HS, Kaimuki HS, Sacred Hearts, Roosevelt HS, Nānākuli HS, Castle HS, Radford HS, UH Mānoa and UH Hilo.

Lei weaving times may vary so organizers encourage interested individuals to follow them on facebook at Lei of Aloha for World Peace.

“There is a lot of aloha in our state, everyone wants to help support those students and their families in Parkland. We want our efforts to truly make a difference,” Panzo said.

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