Every year beginning in October, the Friends of the Children’s Justice Center of Maui opens a toy drive to benefit abused and neglected children in Maui County. “For a lot of them, it’s the only gift they’ll get for Christmas,” said Realtor Donna Hansen, a toy drive supporter who hosts an annual holiday party to collect gifts. Hansen, her husband, Bob, and their family-owned business, the Hansen Ohana, have collected and donated hundreds of presents for many years. “This is something we feel is extremely important … I think it would be horrible to be a child at Christmas, especially an abused child, and wonder ‘How come Santa Claus forgot me?’” The Friends of the Children’s Justice Center of Maui expects to distribute more than 1,600 presents to keiki identified by the state’s Child Welfare Services on Maui, Molokai and Lanai. Gifts are collected by the nonprofit agency, and through mini-toy drives such as the one by the Hansen Ohana. “People do this because they want to help children. It really touches their heart,” Friends’ Executive Director Paul Tonnesson said. By Thanksgiving, the center collected about half of the gifts needed and will accept unwrapped presents for children as old as 18. The center recommends gifts at about $20 each. Gift cards are welcome. “We couldn’t do this without the community and people have always been great about helping,” Tonnesson said.
Unwrapped presents may be dropped at the Friends of the Children’s Justice Center of Maui office, 1773-A Wili Pa Loop in Wailuku, or call 986-8634. The Hansen Ohana is also collecting gifts at its offices at the Wailea Town Center, Suite D-103. In addition to the toy drive, Friends of the Children’s Justice Center of Maui helps to provide abused and neglected children support in a variety of ways from school-related expenses to basic medical, dental and therapy counseling or care not covered by insurance or government programs. The center also provides funds to build community awareness and train social workers and other professionals in the subject of child abuse and neglect.