Maui Residents to Deliver Love & Aloha to Charleston Community

June 25, 2015, 7:36 AM HST · Updated June 26, 5:24 AM
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miranda and juddee

Juddee and Miranda Kawaiola. Courtesy photo.

By Debra Lordan

Two Maui residents will soon deliver messages of aloha, sympathy and encouragement to the Charleston, South Carolina, community, which is still reeling from the fatal shooting of nine of its residents as they participated in a Bible study at Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church, the oldest African-American congregation in the southern US, on Wednesday, June 17.

Miranda and Juddee Kawaiola, long-time volunteers with Kīhei Fourth Friday Town Parties, have started an impromptu campaign to help the Maui community reach out and offer their support and love.

Next week, they will visit the church to pay their respects, bringing cards with messages from individual Maui residents and church congregations.

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Tomorrow night, Friday, June 26, between 6 and 9 p.m., Miranda and Juddee will conduct “a card campaign of love and aloha from our island to Charleston.”

Maui residents and visitors alike are invited to drop off cards–or write a message in one of 50 cards donated by Pacifica Island Art Company in Hāʻiku–at the Event Central Volunteer Tent or at the Entertainment Tent next to the stage where Willie K. will be performing.

Those who can’t make it to Kīhei Fourth Friday can drop off cards at Java Cafe in the Azeka Mauka Shopping Center in Kīhei by July 1. Cafe owner Paul Frate will ship the cards the next day to Miranda and Juddee, while they are in South Carolina visiting friends.

Miranda and Juddee were originally intending to bring lei to some of the patients at Walter Reed Hospital while they were visiting Washington, DC, but the high cost made it impossible.

“Then I thought, our next leg of our vacation will be in the southern states, so why not Charleston?“ said Miranda. “We were so moved by the senseless violence and loss of life in Charleston–we thought, why not offer love, compassion and support from our community to another.

They have been in contact with the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, and were told the cards will be a gift they will treasure for a long time to come.

“They are touched to hear from a community so far away,” said Miranda.

Miranda, a lifelong community volunteer, started giving back early in life, when her mother, Carmen, brought her daughter with her when she volunteered.

“I think it’s in my DNA” said Miranda. “My mother would always tell me to “be good; do good.”

Miranda said that she and Juddee volunteer for at least one day whenever and wherever they go vacation.

“Charleston will definitely feel the aloha when we deliver the cards from all of us,” said Juddee, a reverend, and lifelong community volunteer and activist.

“We all will receive so more from this than they will,” Judee said, adding a quote from Frances of Assisi. “For it is in the giving that we receive.”

The massacre is widely considered to be a hate crime perpetrated by Dylann Roof, age 21. Authorities say the suspect spent an hour in the Bible study group at the historically black church before opening fire on the parishioners. The gunman reportedly told a female survivor of the woman he was letting her live so she could tell others what happened. New sources say he was arrested on Thursday and charged with the murders.

Mourners arrived in Charleston from across the country, on Saturday, June 20, gathering outside the church to pay their respects to the victims, their families and friends.

News sources report that flowers were stacked as high as six feet deep at the memorial site in front of the church.

Placards and signs offer words of solace, prayer and frustration at another act of gun violence.

In early July, Maui will be part of that memorial message.

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