'Tis the season for giving back on Maui

Posted by Staff Writer on Wednesday, December 13th, 2017 at 3:24pm

‘Tis the season for giving back to those in need.

For agents at Island Sotheby’s International Realty, the holiday season is time to count our blessings and give back to the community we love. Although many agents volunteer their time and resources year round, some agents are especially busy during the holidays to make sure others who are less fortunate have full bellies and fellowship.

“There are just so many things you can do,” said Island Sotheby’s International Realty agent Debra Merle.

Sine the late 1980s, Merle has been feeding meals at Ka Hale A Ke Ola, Central Maui’s homeless shelter. She now organizes volunteers, who prepare and serve dinner to residents in need, throughout the year.

"It's a great way to directly help someone and see it happen" said Merle. 

During the holidays, some of Merle’s volunteers help facilitate gift drives, she said. This year, they’re collecting gift cards for the children at the homeless shelter.

Island Sotheby’s International Realty agent Monica Starleaf has also volunteered at the shelter for the last decade. Giving back has the obvious benefit of helping others, Starleaf said, but is also one of the most satisfying things you can do for yourself.

Starleaf said that many people may not know how easily people can fall into homelessness on Maui, noting the fact that the majority of residents are just three paychecks away from being homeless.

“It’s not because these people are lazy and don't work hard enough, it’s because they have something come up with their circumstances,” said Starleaf. “They may have had some major accident or a health issue, and they can’t afford to keep their house anymore.”

But feeding meals at the homeless shelter is just one way Island Sotheby’s agents choose to give back. Island Sotheby’s agent Penni Egger spends Christmas Eve with her family and friends handing out meals to people who are living in the street in Kahului.

“We do go out on Christmas Eve and have a dinner party in the streets of Kahului,” said Egger.

Egger prepared more than 60 meals to hand out to the homeless last year. 

Individual agents, however, are not the only ones who give back. The Hawaii Affiliates of Sotheby’s International Realty Charitable Fund gave Hawaii Literacy a $20,000 earlier this year, which helped pay to provide 1,600 free summer lunches to youth in public housing, offer educational trips and provide 20 Kindles to youth programs.

The grant also helped to pay for holding "summer reading kick-off" and "end-of-summer reading" celebrations, in addition to the installation of much-needed air conditioning at our Mayor Wright Family Library site in Honolulu.

“Your gift directly helped to provide a safer and more comfortable place to learn, access to tablets and technology, enriching field trips and new experiences keiki would otherwise never have,” said Suzanne Skjold, executive director of Hawaii Literacy.

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