From Cabin to Community: Giving New Life to Our Soft Goods

Hawaii is our home

Hawaii is Our Home

From Cabin to Community: Giving New Life to Our Soft Goods

Mālama, meaning to “care for” in Hawaiian and one of our core company values, has been on top of our minds as we think of ways to continue to support our people and communities during the pandemic.

Mālama, meaning to “care for” in Hawaiian and one of our core company values, has been on top of our minds as we think of ways to continue to support our people and communities during the pandemic.

As we started to suspend most of our flying, our product development and in-flight teams immediately began assessing our large inventory of unused cabin items – such as blankets, pillowcases, slippers, mattress pads and amenity kits – to find them new homes and help vulnerable members of our community.

“We saw that several of the nonprofits that we’ve supported over the years are now being met with an unprecedented need for donations as their program beneficiaries are relying more on their services to stay afloat,” said Renee Awana, managing director of product development at Hawaiian Airlines. “Our product development team had the opportunity to look into our inventory and redirect several thousand units of excess soft good items into the hands of shelters and human-services organizations statewide.”

After Hawaiian Humane Society received our donation, its team was sent off by an ānuenue (rainbow in Hawaiian) outside our Honolulu cargo facility.

Since March, Hawaiian has distributed over 10,300 fleece Main Cabin blankets, 169,000 Main Cabin pillowcases,600 Business Class pillowcases, 2,200 Business Class slippers, 2,050 Business Class mattress pads, and 2,750 Business Class and Extra Comfort amenity kits to 12 organizations:

[Editor’s note: We encourage our readers to join us and click the links above to learn how you can support Hawai‘i’s nonprofits during the COVID-19 pandemic.]

"The meaning of kōkua goes beyond the word help; it carries a deeper meaning of offering service, devotion to caring for others, and maintaining this sense of humility. The COVID-19 pandemic has impacted our community in ways we could have never imagined, and our Hawaiian Airlines ‘ohana is doing all that it can to be there for the communities who have supported us for over 90 years,” said Debbie Nakanelua-Richards, director of community and cultural relations at Hawaiian Airlines. “These donations are part of our ongoing commitment to support the efforts of organizations that continue that care for our community, especially in these challenging times.”

We checked in with a few of our nonprofit recipients to see how their donations are being used and share how you can join their impactful efforts.

Maintaining a Safe Space for O‘ahu Animals

Earlier this month, over 2,000 Business Class mattress pads were donated to the Hawaiian Humane Society (HHS) to help animals stay relaxed while its facilities are partially closed. Daniel Roselle, director of community relations at HHS, said the pads will ensure animals can rest comfortably while awaiting adoption or foster care or recovering from critical veterinary services.

Hawaiian Humane Society is using our donated Business Class mattress pads to provide comfortable shelters for its animals.

"The mattress pads we received have been a big help and are making life more comfortable for our animals and more convenient for our animal care staff,” he said. “We use them in our dog and cat kennels, and when we spay or neuter a pet, we can wake them up gently on their own heated pad. We are so grateful for this generous gift from Hawaiian Airlines. It's wonderful to be part of repurposing soft goods in a way that makes life better for O‘ahu’s animals."

Helping Local Shelters Care for the Homeless

The Institute for Human Services (IHS), Oʻahu’s oldest and largest homeless services provider, which operates nine shelters across the island, has faced a similar need for essential items. To keep its temporary residents safe, the organization has implemented strict social distancing rules and reduced the number of beds to allow for six-foot spacing. However, the new rules have made it difficult to accommodate everyone who needs assistance.

To help IHS welcome new residents to their shelters or serve the needs of people who remain on the streets, we donated 2,800 Main Cabin fleece blankets to help keep homeless individuals comfortable at night. 

Several boxes of blankets being loaded onto an Institute for Human Services' truck at our cargo facility.

“Our guests often come to us with nothing but the shirts on their backs,” said Jill Wright, director of philanthropy and community relations at IHS. “By welcoming them with basic comforts like a blanket to sleep under, we are reaffirming that they are valued. This can often make all the difference in their outlook and belief in a brighter future.”

Hawaiian employees and Institute for Human Services' staff in front of a truck filled at capacity with boxes of our Main Cabin blankets.

The Homeless Outreach and Navigation for Unsheltered Persons (HONU) program provides short-term shelters and housing navigation services to Leeward O‘ahu’s homeless community. However, the urgency to help unsheltered individuals off the streets and the resulting demand for supplies has grown two-fold amid COVID-19. In response to a spike in homelessness, HONU has opened a temporary shelter near Honolulu’s Daniel K. Inouye International Airport with spaced-out beds, food, personal hygiene stations, and more. To assist with their transition, we donated over 1,000 of our Main Cabin fleece blankets to HONU earlier this month.

Supporting Pacific Islander Communities in Need

Through its culture-based programs, Partners in Development Foundation (PIDF) helps at-risk groups within the Hawaiian and other Pacific Islander communities overcome difficult life and economic challenges.

Boxes of soft goods waiting to be loaded onto a Partners in Development Foundation truck. Donations will support families and people in need during the COVID-19 pandemic.

As a PIDF partner for over 10 years, we understood the critical need for supplies to support people most vulnerable to the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic. Items like blankets, amenity kits, pillowcases and slippers were expedited to PIDF’s team to be delivered to Pacific Islander families who receive the nonprofit’s vital social services – from safe houses to low-income family programs.

Partners in Development Foundation staff and Hawaiian employees load boxes of donations into vans.

"Partners in Development Foundation is humbled by Hawaiian’s willingness to provide hope, joy, and comfort to our families during this very difficult time,” said Kasey Galariada, outreach manager for Partners in Development Foundation’s Ka Pa‘alana Homeless Family Education Program. “On the day the families received the items, there were smiles, laughter, and so much gratitude shared. We value our partnership as we continue to serve those in need, especially at a time when we all need a little extra love.”

Story By Marissa Villegas,
Internal Communications

April 30, 2020