Not one, not two, not three… but 15.
Fifteen Friday mornings in a row, the Kaimuki Bulldogs football team and families have shown up to distribute food boxes to the community.
“There’s usually three or four guys in a group. In the boxes, there’s laulau, Portuguese sausage, pipikaula,” three-sport senior Koby Moananu said.
“A lot of meats,” Tony Stevens added.
“I think people just come out, not because they need it, but because maybe other people need it. They give it out to them,” Moananu said.
The need in the midst of the COVID-19 crisis is immense. The line of cars entering the football field, then picking up fresh produce, meat and milk in the athletic complex parking lot began at 10:30 a.m. Well past noon, the line was still reloading.
Stevens and his teammates were active, loading boxes onto back seats and trunks. They had a few laughs through the day. Stevens never stops moving.
“Sometimes you have to lead by example. You lead by example,” said Stevens, a 6-foot-2 senior who letters in football, basketball, track and field, and water polo.
Moananu says they will be back every Friday as long as they can help the community. Football coach David Tautofi grew this outreach as part of the Kaimuki Youth Development Organization.
“Aloha Fridays. This is one of those opportunities to really implement what is important in life. To take care of our own and plant seeds in their hearts so they have empathy and compassion for people,” Tautofi said. “They realize this pandemic is really affecting our community and it’s just started. It’s going to get tougher as we go. We’ve seen that today. This week, we’ve seen the numbers jump up two times as much as normal.”
Tautofi has coached at his alma mater for five-plus years and was voted Star-Advertiser coach of the year in 2019. His efforts with the Bulldogs off the gridiron have been a staple. Now, the team in green and gold is consistently providing the manpower to satisfy the community’s needs.
“We definitely have a lot more cars today. Normally, we serve about 350 to 400 households. The last two distributions, we’ve served 500,” Tautofi said. “It’s a partnership. One of our good partners is Siana Hunt of ALTRES Staffing. We started with her.”
Then came along Ham Produce and Seafood Hawaii, Y. Fukunaga Products, Nohokai Hawaii, Chef Hui, Saint Louis Alumni Association and Aloha Harvest.
“We started this three months ago, and we got funding that came in to be able to purchase produce and food products from our local vendors and businesses. We support them and take what we purchase to support our communities, so it’s a full circle,” Tautofi said.
The football team at Kaimuki remains among the smallest in terms of roster numbers, but has consistently overachieved in the win column. Tautofi and his staff make sure their student-athletes are fueled up. Each Friday begins with breakfast for the crew.
“The best way to get them here is to spoil them with breakfast and a good lunch,” he said. “That’s all it really takes.”