Despite difficult times, the sense of lokāhi (unity) throughout our airline is stronger than ever. By working alongside partners like the Hawaii State Department of Education (HIDOE), we have been able to further mālama (care for) and kōkua (help) our home state when it's needed the most.

Over the past several months, hundreds of our employees have raised their hands to help local students and HIDOE schools facing adversity during the COVID-19 pandemic. These volunteer efforts reflect the grit and dedication of our ‘ohana, from landscaping schoolyards and painting murals to listening to community needs and answering with donations.

Kōkua Our Schools

Launched during the summer, our Kōkua Our Schools program has since drawn 385 Hawaiian Airlines volunteers who have put on their face masks and rolled up their sleeves to help six campuses across O‘ahu, Maui and Kaua‘i with various maintenance jobs. These projects have, thus far, amounted to over 2,400 hours of labor so educators could focus on providing a safe, COVID-conscious learning environment.

Hawaiian Airlines volunteers painting a wall prior to a mural installation at King Kamehameha III Elementary School in Lahaina, Maui.


Our work doesn’t stop there. The Kōkua Our Schools program is an ongoing initiative and continues to benefit Hawai‘i’s public schools that request volunteer assistance. Principals interested in bringing the program to their campus can contact the HIDOE Community Engagement Branch at 808-305-0691.  

Our employees and their ʻohana helping care for Waialua Elementary School on Oʻahu's North Shore in late August.

Helping Students Focus on Distance Learning

With the academic year in session, many schools have transitioned their curricula to a virtual learning environment. The shift to distance learning has presented families and HIDOE staff with an array of new challenges; for low-income families, access to the internet has been one of the biggest obstacles. Based on a recent HIDOE survey, it is estimated that roughly 20 percent of students needed better access to reliable internet connectivity during the fourth quarter school closures.

HIDOE has pushed creative solutions to improve internet access for students in need, including establishing safe, socially distanced learning labs at school campuses.

When Farrington High approached us with a need for headphones, our employees hand-delivered 250 Main Cabin earbuds to students to help them focus on their work without disrupting their peers at the urban Honolulu school’s learning lab.

Photo credit: Hawaii State Department of Education
Students using our donated earbuds in Farrington High's learning lab.

Transporting Books Between the Islands

And when the HIDOE needed help transporting 900 new books from O‘ahu to schools in Kona on the Island of Hawai‘i, our teams gladly loaded 30 boxes of books weighing approximately 840 pounds in one of our nightly cargo flights. The books arrived at Kona International Airport in late August, and have since been distributed to Kona students by HIDOE staff.

“As Hawai‘i’s oldest carrier with over 90 years of service to our community, Hawaiian Airlines couldn’t be prouder to support Hawai‘i’s public schools,” said Debbie Nakanelua-Richard, director of culture and community relations at Hawaiian Airlines. “As long as our kōkua is needed, our ‘ohana will continue to support our keiki and neighbors in need as our islands’ community continues to grapple with the wide-scale effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.”