Employee slipper drive benefits keiki

by Kristen Okinaka | Aug. 3, 2022

If you grew up or live in Hawaii, you know that our footwear of choice is the “rubbah slippah,” also known as rubber slippers, slippers or flip-flops depending on where you’re from. In my day, kalakoa (rainbow) “kamaboko” slippers were all the rage — some might have considered them a status symbol.

With so many colors, materials, styles and designs to choose from, you can wear slippers to the beach, store, restaurant, school and even formal events. The right pair of slippers can take you just about anywhere!

This spring, keiki at elementary schools on Hawaii Island received 785 pairs of new slippers donated by Hawaiian Electric employees.

Six schools each received at least 120 pairs of slippers: Honokaa Elementary, Keaukaha Elementary, Ke Kula o Ehunuikaimalino, Kohala Elementary, Mountain View Elementary and Naalehu Elementary. The schools have children from low-income or underprivileged families and are designated as Title I schools. Students can choose from a rainbow of colors, styles and brands in sizes pre-K to men’s 13.

The slippers were collected as part of a month-long Employee Slipper Drive coordinated by the company’s Land Division and led by Land Agent Pohai Kelson. Employees donated slippers at collection boxes at various locations around the company and an employee drive-through event in Hilo. The goal was to collect enough slippers for three schools, but with so many “slippah” donations it was expanded to six schools.

Pohai said she got the idea for a slipper drive while serving as vice president of Kauluana, Keaukaha Elementary School’s PTA. She learned that footwear is often overlooked in community contributions and decided to find a way to help.

“The most rewarding part was seeing all our employees coming together to provide a basic necessity for the keiki of the Big Island and knowing that each slipper would make a difference in a child’s life, big or small,” Pohai said. “Even if we only touch one child in a sea of hundreds, that one child will be the difference that the world needs today!”

Hawaiian Electric’s highest priority is to build a sustainable Hawaii in which our children and grandchildren, our communities, our customers and employees will thrive, together.

Employees like Pohai believe in volunteering as a way to give back to their island home. In 2021, 1,556 Hawaiian Electric volunteers across the five islands we serve logged 3,555 volunteer hours serving our communities.

“We’re part of our communities and passionate about strengthening the place we live in, work in, and love,” Pohai said. “By coordinating this activity, I was able to meet co-workers I may not have met through work and make connections with others in our community.”

Kristen Okinaka is the senior communications consultant for Hawaiian Electric’s operations on Hawai‘i Island.

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Hawaiian Electric

Hawaiian Electric

Established in 1891, Hawaiian Electric is committed to empowering its customers and communities by providing affordable, reliable, clean and sustainable energy.