Group aims to protect feet of kids across state

Group aims to protect feet of kids across state

By Leila Fujimori
Honolulu Star-Advertiser

POSTED: 01:30 a.m. HST, Nov 22, 2010

Auntie Pupule hopes her Christmas wish to provide slippers for all the “forgotten children” of Hawaii will come true this year.

“Last year we were slow because of the economy,” said Auntie Pupule, also known as Lynn Vasquez-Dela Cerna. “Hopefully, this year we can raise enough funds to help the outer islands.”

Auntie Pupule’s wish was born in 2005 out of seeing needy children in her own neighborhood — Mayor Wright Housing in Honolulu — running around “slippahless” because their parents could not afford them.

Vasquez posted that Christmas wish on the Hawaii Threads bulletin board and her blog, and the online community responded. She and friend Blaine Fergerstrom collected enough money to buy, as Christmas gifts, enough rubber slippers to protect the feet of all the Mayor Wright kids.

The idea snowballed, and in 2008 they collected money and donations to provide for children on the Big Island, Maui and Kauai as well as Oahu.

“After 5,000 I stopped counting,” Vasquez said. “I was too happy, and the boxes and boxes kept coming. I sent them to the outer islands.

“Unfortunately, last year we couldn’t include them,” she said. “It was sad. I couldn’t reach out to a lot of places. … It’s heartbreaking when we can’t give to the children.”

She collected enough slippers last year for Mayor Wright and Leeward Oahu children, but not those on the neighbor islands.

Though Vasquez has been doing it for five years, she still gets choked up thinking about it.

“There are so many children that are out there … the forgotten children,” Vasquez said. “The slippers they receive are their gift.”

“When I see their eyes light up, I get chicken skin,” she said, her voice breaking with emotion.

The Mayor Wright Annual Slippah Celebration, sponsored by the Kau Kau Wagon, will be held Dec. 22 at 6 p.m.

The Slippah Foundation, a 501(c)3 nonprofit corporation, also accepts clothes, toys, canned goods and, yes, slippers.

To make a monetary donation, go to www.slippah.org or mail a check made payable to The Slippah Foundation, 1689 Piikea St., Honolulu 96818. To give