When Hawaiian Airlines brand director Alisa Onishi received a call from Kealopiko co-founder Jamie Makasobe asking if Hawaiian was interested in shipping masks from California to Hawaii, she immediately agreed to not only provide complimentary transportation, but also sponsor the project.
“Our great design partner, Kealopiko, reached out to us prior to the mayor of Honolulu mandating masks to be used in public spaces,” Onishi said.
“And having recently launched our new inflight amenity kits together, Kealopiko knew that we’d be up for supporting this great effort.”
This meant Hawaiian Airlines would cover the cost of manufacturing and transporting 2,000 masks that would go to its local partners, as well as carry an additional 3,000 masks shipped from Los Angeles, where Kealopiko’s facility is able to mass-produce masks in partnership with Smartees Hawaii.
As soon as the masks arrived in Honolulu on April 10, Hawaiian Airlines’ employee volunteer group, Team Kokua, began dividing the shipment into care packages for various organisations, including longtime partner the Blood Bank of Hawaii (BBH), which now needs masks for its staff and donors.
“Just as Hawaii’s patients depend on 25,000 volunteer donors every year for the gift of lifesaving blood, so does Blood Bank of Hawaii depend on partners like Hawaiian Airlines to deliver that blood every day to neighbour island hospitals,” said Kim-Anh Nguyen, CEO of BBH.
“Now, with COVID-19, Blood Bank has even more to be thankful for: a generous gift of masks and refreshments for our staff and blood donors from the Ola Nui Kakou Project.”
The donation allowed BBH to pay it forward and host a much-deserved lunch celebration during National Laboratory Professionals’ Week to mahalo healthcare heroes who work behind the scenes to process, test and distribute blood.
“As a little gift, we packaged [Hawaiian Airlines’] snacks and mask for each lab technician. It was wonderful to see them wearing their masks proudly by the end of the day!” Nguyen said.
“There are still many more gifts to share with our collections staff, volunteers and other team members.”
Over on Molokai, Kealopiko was busy delivering masks to the Liliuokalani Trust, Hawaiian keiki and kupuna (elderly), schools, banks and first responders.
It was important for Kealopiko to serve the Molokai community because of its deep ties to the Friendly Isle – in 2008, the co-founders moved their company from Honolulu to Molokai, where over 40 per cent of residents are native Hawaiian.
“During this time, and always, taking care of the wellbeing of our people of this place we call home is important,” Makasobe said.
“As history has shown, the Hawaiian population has been especially vulnerable to disease, and we believe it is the same with COVID-19. This project is to service those communities.”
Kealopiko has distributed over 5,000 masks through the Ola Nui Kakou Project on Molokai, Maui, Kauai, Niihau, Hawaii Island, and Oahu.
Hawaiian Airlines continues to work closely with partners to find more opportunities to help our island home. Most recently, the airline partnered with Every1ne Hawaii to carry 1.6 million masks from Shenzhen, China to Honolulu.
During these trying times when everyone is pitching in to help those in need, Onishi said its partners have been Hawaiian Airlines’ greatest inspiration.
“As one of the main air cargo carriers to the islands, if a partner reaches out to us to do something good for our islands and communities, we’re happy to be a part of it,” she said.
“If we have the capacity and the means to kokua, we do. We are a part of Hawaii’s community and we are here to serve where we can.”
This article has been edited and republished with permission from Hawaiian Airlines. You can read the original here.