Hawaii charities strained by support for Japan

Published: Apr. 12, 2011 at 8:18 PM HST|Updated: Apr. 13, 2011 at 4:41 PM HST
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By Tim Sakahara - bio | email

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - More money will be going to Japan after the huge Kokua for Japan campaign last weekend which raised more than $1.6 million.  But that success may also be taking away from other charitable organizations.

This coming weekend there's another big fundraising campaign for the Hawaii Foodbank.

"We're spinning our wheels several times faster than we have in other years," said Polly Kauahi, Hawaii Foodbank Director of Development. "We are really counting on the aloha spirit of the Hawaii people because there are 14 percent of our population here in Hawaii that needs the Hawaii Foodbank."

Twice in the past six months the Hawaii Foodbank has completely run out of canned goods and the fear is that will happen again.  This year they want to raise enough for a million meals at its 22nd annual food drive. But what if people feel like they've already given what they can to charity?

"That's absolutely a scenario we're hoping won't happen because it is our family we're trying to feed right now," said Kauahi. "55,000 keiki, can you imagine if they don't eat?  That's what we're looking at."

"We are really overwhelmed. All of the non-profits I believe are really overwhelmed with the need," said Tisha Woytenko, Help the Hawaii Homeless Executive Director.

Newer non-profits are having a tough time as well.  Help the Hawaii Homeless started a year ago.  Since the tsunami its donations have nearly dried up.

"We have been neglecting the issues in our own backyard for a very long time," said Woytenko. "We very much know that our resources are strained."

She says situations like what happened in Japan create a competition for resources.  While they understand the desire to help Japan they certainly aren't going to sing a sour note if one group gets the attention.

"Our strategy doesn't call for failure," said Kauahi. "Our strategy calls for we'll do whatever we need to do to make sure the people of Hawaii are taken care of."

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