Operation: Warm Clothes

Molokai residents have donated 2000 pounds of clothing for Afghani families in need.

Richard Messina poses with 2000 pounds of clothing on his lanai waiting to be distributed to families in Afghanistan by his Airman son, Joseph. Photo by Bevan Analoro.

By Catherine Cluett

Joseph Messina is an airman with the Air Force. While working in the rural villages of Afghanistan in the bitter cold, the soldiers noticed the Afghani families had no warm clothes, Messina and his fellow airmen began giving away their own clothes to freezing villagers. Messina told his father, Molokai resident Richard Messina, about the situation. Within weeks, 2000 pounds of clothes had accumulated on the Messina’s lanai, donated by concerned Molokai residents. Queen Liliuokalani Center alone donated over 300 pounds of items.

“It’s blowing my mind,” says Richard Messina. “A lot of people have donated and it’s still coming.” He’s calling the effort “Operation: Warm Clothes.”

There’s only one problem – they have to pay to ship 2000 pounds of clothing to Afghanistan. Messina says it costs $79 to send a 49-pound box. He’s hoping the military can help, but so far, it doesn’t look hopeful.

Joseph Messina, meanwhile, has set up a way to distribute the clothing directly to the people in Afghanistan who need it. This will avoid having the supplies end up in the wrong hands, says his father.

To help raise money for shipment, a fundraiser event is being held at Hotel Molokai on Sunday February 22, from noon to 4 p.m. Musical entertainment will be offered by the “Anahaki Blend and Friends” band as well as Lono and others. The event will also feature raffle drawing and door prizes, one of which is a whale watching trip donated by Molokai Ocean Tours run by Nancy and Ernie Poland. Tickets for the event are available for a donation of $5.

Messina says they’re still looking for clothing donations. Warm clothing is what’s needed – like jackets, socks, shoes, sweater and blankets – for men, women and children. You can also offer monetary donations to assist with shipping.

For tickets to the fundraiser event or for more information, call Richard at 553-4328.

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