Stranded for days in the icy northeast, a group of Waianae Intermediate School students are experience the warmth of aloha tonight – thanks to an Oahu transplant who now calls New Jersey home.
The cohort – 10 students and five chaperones – were supposed to fly home on Tuesday after a musical performance at Carnegie Hall in New York City. A massive snowstorm canceled one flight, and a late-arriving shuttle bus forced them to miss another.
They've been staying at a Holiday Inn near the Newark airport until Friday, the earliest day they could fly out. But the group was underprepared for the late-season snowstorm.
"The weather is so cold and my hands were so cold. My face was numb," said eighth grader Kailee Teixeira.
Aid came from several places; friends of the group donated money so that they could make a store run, in order buy fresh clothes and other supplies.
But transporting 15 people is no easy task ... at least, not without some help.
Former Hawaii resident and 'Iolani School graduate Lynette Wang heard about the students' situation on social media. She and her husband, Andy – who now live in Chatham, New Jersey – offered to help.
Shanita Akana, the school's choir director, says the Wangs and another friend, Catherine Chin-Chance, got in touch with the group on Facebook and offered to do anything they could to help.
First, they took the group to Walmart to handle the shopping. A trip to Costco followed, where the threesome bought food for the group – then offered to take them to the Wangs' home and whip up a home-cooked meal.
"The kids were so happy, so smiley," said Akana.
After dinner, Andy pulled out his ukulele for an impromptu jam session.
"It was a humongous blessing," Akana added.
The group is staying at the Holiday Inn again on Thursday night. They ordered an extra-early shuttle to the airport on Friday morning, so they don't miss another flight.