On Dec. 14, Street Bikers United Hawaii - Maui County chapter held its 12th annual toy collection drive in partnership with the United States Marine Corps Reserve, the Salvation Army of Maui County and numerous other local businesses, groups, clubs and organizations.
The collective effort this year resulted in a record number of toys donated to Toys 4 Tots in one event. However, every toy that was collected that day has already been distributed to one of the more than 14 social services agencies that the Salvation Army provides toys to in Maui County. These agencies include the Family Life Center, Head Start, the Boys & Girls Club of Maui, homeless shelters, children of incarcerated parents and children with parents involved in Maui Drug Court and Family Court. SBU and the Salvation Army also attempt to provide toys to children in economically depressed regions such as Hana, Kahakuloa and on Molokai.
This year, the Alii Motorcycle Club sponsored a ride on Molokai. Club members shipped their bikes to the Friendly Isle and facilitated a toy collection drive and parade for the keiki of our sister island. In addition, the Alii Motorcycle Cycle also shipped over a container full of toys.
With all of that said, I must report that the need is still so great and there are so many more children and agencies still in need that we cannot yet announce "mission accomplished." The Salvation Army reports that it has a waiting list of multiple agencies (and a long list of individual families) that are still in need of toys.
In 2012, the Salvation Army assisted more than 135,000 families in Hawaii. In 2013, donations to the Salvation Army are down 30 percent (as of this writing), and nationwide, donations are expected to drop by $20 million. As a result, more families are in need than ever before and those toys need to keep coming in.
The Salvation Army will continue to accept new, unwrapped toys through Christmas Day and beyond. It is important to note that all toys collected in Maui County stay in Maui County. Donations may be dropped off at the Kahului facility at 45 Kamehameha Ave. For more information, call 871-6270.
For 39 years in Hawaii, SBU has maintained a relationship with the Salvation Army and will continue to do so in a partnership that serves to ensure that every child in Hawaii has a very merry Christmas every year.
* Jake Jacobus is the president of Street Bikers United Hawaii - Maui County chapter.