As the COVID-19 pandemic shuttered many businesses and forced many into unemployment, the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa John A. Burns School of Medicine (JABSOM) worried how it would affect its annual Giving Tree, which fulfills Christmas wish lists of homeless keiki. This year, the UH Homeless Outreach and Medical Education (HOME) Project and the Family Medicine Interest Group took a digital route.
“Fortunately we moved everything online this year and we were able to reach a bigger part of the community and we got more donations than we have before,” said Amandalin Rock, a third-year medical student at JABSOM.
The community responded, fulfilling the wish lists of 380 homeless—the largest endeavor in the history of the giving tree at JABSOM.
“I’m just really touched that everybody has just been so generous and even after all the kids were sponsored I was getting calls from people wanting to donate and wanting to contribute to the program,” said HOME Project Founder and Director of the Office of Medical Education Jill Omori. “And so we’ve just been really blessed this year.”
JABSOM medical students and pre-medical student volunteers spent hours wrapping up gifts and getting them ready to be delivered to keiki across several Oʻahu shelters, including the Family Assessment Center in Kakaʻako, Onelauena and Onemalu Shelters in Kalaeloa, Kakaʻako Paiʻolu Kaiaulu Shelter in Waiʻanae, IHS Women’s and Children’s Shelter, Villages of Māʻili Shelter, and the boat harbor encampment in Waiʻanae.
This year, they also supplied gifts for some of the kids to give to their parents and made goodie bags for families containing food, hygiene products and emergency supplies (first-aid kits, flashlights, blankets, etc).
For more, go to the JABSOM website.