It started with question posted to a Hawaii online forum: “What do you want for Christmas?”
Forum participants chimed in with the usual requests for Santa: a laptop computer; kitchen appliances; underwear; world peace. But “AuntiePupule,” better known as Lynn Vasquez of a public housing facility in Honolulu, responded that she’d like the children at the facility to have a pair of rubber slippers, so they’ll never have to go barefoot.Feet find comfort this Christmas and throughout the year. Think about donating the pair you got for your Hawaii trip before going back home.
Her request to the North Pole six years ago had been answered. However, it came from a little closer to home, gifted to her and the children of the Mayor Wright Housing in the form of what they called “The Slippah Project.” Online readers from near and as far away as Arizona, Oregon and California donated the rubber footwear without expecting a thing in return.
Today, the project has turned into a nonprofit known as The Slippah Foundation. “Auntie” and co-founder Blaine Fergerstrom expanded their efforts to other public housing and homeless shelters on the Leeward Coast and throughout the island of Oahu. The pair even sent slippers to Kauai, Maui and the Big Island.“Auntie” brings in a sled of slippers for those in need of some footwear.
Many times visitors who come to Hawaii buy slippers for the sole purpose of their tropical trip. Once they’re back home, the flip flops get put aside, far from Hawaiian sunshine and in the depths of household closets. What’s worse is that I’ve actually walked through Waikiki and noticed that – along with the barely-used beach mats and towels – slippers get tossed almost as frequently as the ABC bags I see in the trash.
Reduce, reuse and recycle, right? Next time you’re on your way out of the islands, consider sharing that comfy pair of slippers that have been so nice to you during your trip with someone who may need them longer than all your Hawaii vacays combined. Please have some heart and “sole” by spreading joy to families during this season of giving. Mahalo and from the Hawaii Aloha Travel ohana, Mele Kalikimaka!
Photo Credit (second photo): The Slippah Foundation
THE SLIPPAH FOUNDATION • Donate gently-used slippers, clothing, toys and canned goods • www.slippah.org • 808-847-2221