Maui News

Hawaiian Providing Air Support for “Aloha Initiative”

June 16, 2011, 7:02 AM HST
* Updated June 16, 7:03 AM
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By Wendy Osher

Hawaiian Airlines, photo by Wendy Osher.

Hawaiian Airlines has joined “The Aloha Initiative,” a grassroots program launched on Maui that offers respite in Hawaii for Japan families displaced by the March 11 earthquake and tsunami.

The program was initiated in part by Maui residents Keith Regan and Lynn Araki-Regan and Keith and Michiko-Lynn Powers, and led by the Japanese Cultural Society of Maui. The program expects to bring more than 100 affected Japan residents to Hawaii over the next few months, with visitors staying up to 90 days at homes on Maui and Oahu as they begin the healing process.

Hawaiian Airlines is contributing free interisland flights, as well as substantially discounted fares between Japan and Honolulu, in support of the program.

“Families affected by the disasters in Japan are facing a long road to recovery and we want to help provide as many as possible with some relief from life in shelters,” said Mark Dunkerley, president and CEO of Hawaiian Airlines.

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“We are so grateful to Hawaiian Airlines for truly exemplifying the aloha spirit with their generous support for our respite program,” said Maui Mayor Alan Arakawa, Honorary Chair of The Aloha Initiative.

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The Aloha Initiative is paying all transportation costs with the help of Hawaiian airlines and generous donations made by others, including First Hawaiian Bank, and the general public.

“Without businesses and individuals coming together to show their support, this project would not even come close to becoming a reality,” said Araki-Regan.

The first group of Aloha Initiative participants is tentatively scheduled to arrive in Honolulu from Japan on Tuesday, July 5.   Beneficiaries of the program were selected by the Japanese Cultural Society of Maui, with priority given to those most in need of help and compassionate support.

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Program participants are expected to include a range of individuals and families, such as orphans accompanied by guardians, adults who have lost spouses or children, and families who have their possessions.

Among those who have volunteered to serve as hosts is Ginny McKee of Kula-Maui, a project manager for Hawaiian, and a member of The Aloha Initiative’s organizational committee.

“Opening our home to someone from Japan is our way of sharing Hawaii’s aloha and helping them to heal, so that they can return home and renew their lives,” said McKee.

Financial donations are still being accepted for Aloha Initiative.  Donations can be made at any First Hawaiian Bank branch through June 30th.

Hawaiian’s contribution to The Aloha Initiative effort is one of the many ways the company has stepped forward in support of the recovery in Japan.  The company organized the “Lei Day for Japan” music and cuisine benefit on May 1.  Hawaiian also organized an internal fundraising drive that included matching employee contributions.  In total, the company has collected more than $250,000 in fundraising for Japan relief to date.

*** Supporting information courtesy, Hawaiian Airlines.

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