From left to right: Lia Walthouse, Priscilla Walthouse, Jennifer Li, Priscilla Wassman, Cari Tanabe, Mariel Tanglao, Day Ching, Guysen Terai, Shea Suzumoto, Anina Quaranto and Donna Quaranto.
Last summer, as I pondered the items my 7-year-old son would need for his coming school year, a dream and desire to help little strangers began to form. I was overcome with a yearning to give to those I didn’t even know. As a Locations Realtor-Associate®, my job revolves around finding my clients' dream homes. However, this time, it was about fulfilling a different kind of dream—the dream of a better school year for children in need.
I couldn't help but think back to my own childhood and growing up without my late mother who passed when I was just 10 years old. My childhood wasn’t always the easiest. I remembered times when my school supplies came from the Salvation Army and I received hand-me-down clothing. I wanted to build on the efforts of the Locations Foundation, the charitable arm of my company that each year donates backpacks filled with school supplies to over 500 children.
As a Locations Guardian, I am pleased to donate 1% of my earnings each month to give back to my community, but I had a vision to do even more: To provide children with new clothing and toiletries. I firmly believe and recognize that these essentials can significantly boost a child's self-esteem and confidence. I knew that I wanted to personally take a child shopping to help select new clothing and toiletries for the new school year. But how? I'm not a 501(c)(3) charity!
My mind was like a scene from "The Nightmare Before Christmas" when Jack Skellington, the Pumpkin King, entered the Christmas door and saw Christmas for the first time. What's this, What's this? There's color everywhere. What's this? There's white things in the air. What's this? I can't believe my eyes. I must be dreaming, Wake up, Jack, this isn't fair. What's this?
Then the answer came to me: I may not have it all, but I have enough. It was time to give back! My spouse connected me with Achieve Zero, a local grassroots organization dedicated to breaking the cycle of homelessness for struggling families and individuals in Central Oahu. Nicky and Chris from the Wahiawa office were vital in finding 10 elementary-aged students that we could help.
To make my vision a reality, I knew that I needed the support of my fellow Locations agents. It came as no surprise that many willingly donated their time and contributed $100 each. I matched their generous contributions with an additional $50 per child, resulting in a surprise $150 shopping spree for each of the 10 children. Those kind-hearted fellow Locations agents are: Anina Quaranto, Cari Tanabe, Day Ching, Guysen Terai, Jantzen Shinmoto, Jennifer Li, Mariel Tanglao, Priscilla Walthouse and Shea Suzumoto.
As I waited patiently for the names of the children, I sought out assistance from Walmart Mililani and Walmart Mililani McDonald's. Recognizing the importance of the event, the owner of Mililani McDonald’s sponsored breakfast for the children and agents, and even provided the kids with goodie bags, adding an extra layer of joy to the day. Walmart Mililani was provided a safe environment to host our event, which we called "Summer Give Back!"
After a detailed proposal and numerous conversations with the team leader and store managers, everything was set for the children. Shelves were stocked with clothing in numerous sizes, footwear, outerwear and children’s toiletries. The shopping spree took place on Sunday, July 30, 2023, just before the start of the new school year. Children were able to shop independently with their generous Locations agent, allowing them to make their own decisions. It was a true one-on-one experience. Initially, the kids seemed a bit unsure. With stone-faced expressions, many whispered shyly, "Oh no, it's okay. I have enough." However, as the shopping spree unfolded and McDonald’s meals were enjoyed, something magical happened. The children's faces lit up, and their smiles grew wider, as their level of confidence and happiness overflowed.
Ten wonderful and giving Locations agents shared heartwarming conversations with the children about their excitement for the new school year, the importance of school and the value of respect, hopefully reinforcing valuable life lessons. This community give-back event brought together many who want to make a difference through unexpected acts of kindness. It also highlighted the incredible power of compassion, generosity and the strength of our community. In the end, it was a simple school supply list that confirmed for me what I already knew in my heart: I'm lucky to live and work in an extraordinary community that cares!
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