Representative Maile Shimabukuro is putting a call out for donations of items or services for an auction being held to raise money for Wai'anae youth to attend college while learning about agricultural sustainability and community development.
The fundraiser, 5th Annual MA'O Ma Town, is scheduled for September 5, 2009 from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. at the Hawaii State Art Museum. The event boasts an epicurean feast, grown by MA'O Organic Farms and prepared by Downtown chefs, live entertainment, and silent and live auctions.
Individual tickets are $125. A table for 8 people with bottomless wine is $2,000 and a table for 8 with bottomless wine, champagne and more is $5,000. While individual tickets are selling out quick, event planners say table tickets are still bountiful.
All proceeds from the fundraiser will go to a special fund that will provide scholarships for students enrolled in the 2-year Youth Leadership Training (YLT) College Internship Program at MA'O. Most of them are first in their family to attend college and earn a degree. The monies will also be used for farm land expansion which will in turn help to nurture more young agriculture enthusiasts.
"MA'O Farm is teaching youth how to create a sustainable future – one based on organic agriculture, being good to our bodies and good to the earth," said Rep. Maile Shimabukuro, (D45-Wai'anae, Makaha, Makua), who is a member of the planning committee.
The program offers youth a unique way to start their college careers. While working toward an Associate of Arts degree with a certificate in community food systems at Leeward Community College, interns devote hours to cultivating the farms and learning the trade while participating in Farmer's Markets throughout the year.
During a special report on Hawaii Public Radio, Cheryse Sana, one of 27 student interns, talked about her experience on the farm. "This morning I woke up at 5 o'clock," she said, "We put on our pants, grabbed our hats, than at 6 o'clock the assistant farm manager sends us out to pick the vegetables that we need for the day."
"I actually grow stuff in my backyard from what we grow on the farm and I give it to my whole family," added Jonathan Abell, 19, another student intern. "I take them (the vegetables) to church, and even the people around in my community, and they're like 'eh, you get salads?' and I say, ‘oh yeah, I get’, and I cut them (salads) and give it to them (community members). So, yeah, it's actually getting around."
Last year, the auctions raised $15,000 to support scholarships for MA'O youth to enroll at the college, attend conferences in San Jose and Philadelphia, as well as hold their own conferences for other island youth on Oahu. In total, the event raked in over $34,000. More than $100,000 has been raised in previous events over the years.
"Like fine wine, each year this event just keeps getting better and better," quipped Rep. Shimabukuro.
In order for this year's fundraiser to have the same success, MA'O Ma Town is seeking donations of items or services to be auctioned off. Those who would like to donate items or purchase tickets can contact Wei Fang at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 808-397-0960 for more information. Credit transactions accepted.