Older kids help brighten holidays for Maui students whose school was damaged by blaze

Santa's Workshop brightens the holidays for students at Maui school damaged by arson fire
Published: Dec. 11, 2017 at 3:30 AM HST|Updated: Dec. 11, 2017 at 10:29 AM HST
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KAHULUI, MAUI (HawaiiNewsNow) - After a devastating arson fire at a Maui school, students at a neighboring campus decided to help cheer the children up and teach them about the joy of giving.

Saint Nicholas and his elves transformed Maui High School's cafeteria into Santa's Workshop.

Students and staff donated new items for keiki as well as adults. Children from Kahului Elementary School could buy up to four gifts for their family and friends at deeply discounted prices.

"I think just having them be able to kind of enjoy Christmas will make their school year a whole lot better," said MHS student body president Camryn Ban.

A suspected arson fire on November 24 caused an estimated $1.2 million in damage at Kahului Elementary. Classes resumed more than a week later.

"They've been through a lot these past couple of weeks so I think it's just a little picker-upper for them to have a nice holiday," said student activities coordinator Glenda Joyo.

On Thursday, parents waited outside the gift center while the students picked out presents which were wrapped for free. Before leaving, the children stopped to snap a photo with Santa.

"I think it helps them forget about it, and it teaches them responsibility. It's fun and cheerful," said Jennifer Wood, the parents of two Kahului Elementary School students.

The $1,000 collected from the elementary school students will be donated to the Children's Cancer Foundation on Oahu.

"My favorite part was getting gifts for everyone," said Abigail Wood, a student at Kahului Elementary School.

The leftover gifts will be given to the high school's special education department which will be running a thrift store for students on campus.

This was Maui High's 4th annual Santa's Workshop, which is a student government project. Each year one of the elementary schools in the complex is invited to the campus.