Retired nurse from California spreads holiday cheer to Sacred Hearts School students
In the spirit of bringing some Christmas joy to students affected by the wildfires in Lahaina, retired nurse Linda Higgins of Los Gatos, Calif., led a project to deliver hundreds of handmade Christmas stockings, stuffed with candy and small presents.
One hundred fifty of the stockings were delivered Thursday morning to smiling and excited students at Sacred Hearts School in Kapalua. Devastating wildfire damage to the school forced students, faculty and staff to temporarily relocate the school from a parcel next to Maria Lanakila Church to Kapalua.
“I’m so happy it’s come to fruition. It’s just overwhelming,” Higgins said.
“Mahalo nui loa to Linda Higgins and her dedicated volunteers for making this Christmas unforgettable for Sacred Hearts School,” said Principal Tonata Lolesio. “Their efforts, like the stockings they delivered, have wrapped our community in a blanket of joy and unity. Thank you for being the shining stars in our holiday celebration.”
Moved by compassion and a desire to make a difference, Higgins spearheaded the volunteer project to make hundreds of hand-made felt Christmas stockings. On Maui this week, she was joined by volunteers Donna Lueder, Michelle Almenar and Christina Shaffer from the San Jose area.
Southwest Airlines airlifted 44 boxes of Christmas stockings free of charge. Additionally, Southwest Airlines gifted three airfares to the volunteers, while one volunteer who was already planning a visit to Maui covered her own airfare.
Boxes of Christmas stockings were also delivered this week to the Hawaiʻi Department of Education office in Kahului. These stockings are headed for students of Princess Nāhiʻenaʻena and King Kamehameha III elementary schools.
Because the wildfire destroyed the King Kamehameha III campus off of Front Street, the students are all currently in classes on the Princess Nāhiʻenaʻena campus located above Lahaina town.
Higgins said she has a strong connection to Maui and its people and felt compelled to do something more than donate money after learning about the wildfires. “I woke up one night and just thought, ‘I gotta do something else.’ Kids aren’t going to have Christmas. Their parents are trying to find a bed. How can I make Christmas for these little kids?” she said.
The stockings contained age-appropriate gifts and candy, carefully prepared to bring joy to children of all ages. Older students found yo-yos and jump ropes, while younger ones received gifts like Play-dough and friendship bracelets.
ABC News correspondent Becky Worley, a former Maui resident and Sacred Hearts School student, played a pivotal role in suggesting the donation to Sacred Hearts students. Higgins expressed gratitude for Worley’s support, which included reaching out to Southwest Airlines for assistance.
Higgins said that creating the hundreds of stockings was a joyful and stress-free experience. “This was the least stressful event of my life,” she said.
For more information about Sacred Hearts School or to help with a donation, visit shsmaui.org. To help with the Catholic response to the wildfires, go online to the St. Anthony of Padua Catholic Church website at stanthonymaui.org and click on donate here for the Maui Disaster Relief Fund.