By Leland Kim
LAIE (KHNL) - A local woman comes back to Hawaii, to give back to the orphanage that gave her start. She and her community put together a special fundraiser.
Sun Joo Allred now lives in Utah with her husband and their children. But she wanted to come home to Hawaii, to help children who have no other place to turn.
Allred is an island girl through and through.
"I loved luaus," she said. "I loved body surfing growing up. I loved the dance and the music of the islands and its people."
She grew up in Laie, but was born in South Korea. Allred spent her early years in an orphanage.
"Someone gave me a place to call home," she said. "I was abandoned at an inn, next to a train station."
She was adopted by the Coburns. Allred grew up with 16 brothers and sisters.
In 2006, she made the journey back to Korea, 40 years after she left. She visited her orphanage.
"I had an overwhelming feeling of love for the children actually," said Allred.
She experienced a flood of emotions.
"I think I cried more so because the people who ran that orphanage, to me, these are the silent heroes that the world will never know," said Allred.
She said her heart goes out to the woman who gave her up for adoption.
"She made a phenomenal sacrifice," said Allred. "I am a mother of five children and I can tell you now. As a mother of five children, it would be excruciatingly painful to have to give up a child."
Allred and her family have been on a mission to raise money for the orphanage. For the biggest drive, she came home to Hawaii. And her community rallied around her.
"I'm hoping that these children could get a better life than what they have now," said Molly Tanuvasa, a Laie resident. "So, I was very touched when I found out that it was going to orphans over in South Korea."
So Allred continues her mission: to help the children who are in the same place she was 40 years ago.
"Reaffirms in my mind how important it is to be a part of an all-encompassing ohana," she said. "And this is what the family in Laie is: a wonderful ohana."