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JABSOM’s first virtual giving tree fulfills record number of Christmas wishes for homeless keiki

Date: December 19th, 2020 in Hawaii HOME Project, JABSOM News, Student Life, UH Manoa    Print or PDF

van loaded with gifts

Pictured: MD students load a van with gifts ready to be distributed. Paula Bender photo.

Despite a dark year, UH medical school brings holiday cheer

By Deborah Manog Dimaya, Interim Communications Director

As the COVID-19 pandemic shuttered many businesses and forced many into unemployment, the University of Hawaii (UH) medical school worried how it would affect its annual Giving Tree. 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 party of the community and we got more donations than we have before,” said Amandalin Rock, a third-year medical student at the John A. Burns School of Medicine (JABSOM).

The community responded, fulfilling the Christmas wish lists of 380 homeless keiki– 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 of people wanting to donate and wanting to contribute to the program,” said HOME Project Founder and Director of the Office of Medical Education Dr. 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 Kaka’ako, Onelauena and Onemalu Shelters in Kalaeloa, Pai’olu Kaiaulu Shelter in Waianae, IHS Women’s and Children’s Shelter, Villages of Maili Shelter, and the boat harbor encampment in Waianae. 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).

Video by Deborah Dimaya, Paula Bender, Vina Cristobal:

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