Children's charity gets sports bar's dollar bills - Hawaii News Now - KGMB and KHNL

Children's charity gets sports bar's dollar bills

By Ben Gutierrez - bio | email

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - An organization that assists families with seriously-ill children is the beneficiary of an unusual donation from a Honolulu sports bar.

The group HUGS collected about a thousand one-dollar bills from the Rende Vuu Sports Bar on Sand Island. HUGS is an acronym for "Help, Understanding and Group Support."

For years, bar patrons would draw on a dollar bill and then stick it with tape to the bar's ceiling, walls, light fixtures -- just about any surface were you could stick a dollar bill. The bar's new owner had the bills taken down while renovations were made. Hawaii News Now first reported on this story last December, when owner Samuel Nakata decided to offer the bills to charity.

Nakata said he looked at about a hundred e-mails from people who wanted the money. But there was one e-mail that caught his eye. It came from a woman named Myriam Whaley, who was helped by HUGS when her two-year-old daughter was diagnosed with leukemia.

"They have respite for our kids, they have mom's night and dad's night. That's the first one I thought when I saw the newscast. I thought I have to write something for HUGS, you know, and we gotta keep this organization going," Whaley said.

"The other e-mails were more direct. 'I need this, I need that, help me,'" Nakata said. "But this one from recipient, so if the charity made an impression on them, I thought that was impressive. It made them stand out from the other charities."

HUGS Executive Director Donna Witsell helped take some of the last dollars off the bar's ceiling, and gave them to Whaley and her two daughters to put into a bag. "We're very, very fortunate, and I can't thank Myriam enough for taking up the pen, so to speak, because that made all the difference," Witsell said. According to Witsell, HUGS depends on funding from individual and corporate donations, grants, and an annual fundraiser.

Related story & video: Sand Island bar looking to donate a thousand dollars to charity

Related: HUGS Web site

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