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Wishing Well… for Maui Students Hosts Maui Ocean Center Fundraiser

Realtors Association of Maui member and Wishing Well…for Maui Students founder Sarah Sorenson poses outside of the Maui Ocean Center, where the Wishing Well program’s inaugural fundraiser, “Wishes with Fishes,” will take place on Saturday, Aug. 11.

The Wishing Well…for Maui Students program will host its inaugural fundraiser, “Wishes with Fishes,” on Saturday, Aug. 11, from 6 to 9 p.m. at the Maui Ocean Center. The 21-and-over event will feature a buffet dinner catered by the award-winning Seascape Restaurant, silent auction and live music by acclaimed slack key guitarist Jeff Peterson, the Natalie Nicole Band and the award-winning ukulele-powered Hawaiian reggae folk rock band, Kanekoa. Attendees will have the rare opportunity to explore the aquarium after hours, interact with marine naturalists, and enjoy a special diver presentation in the Open Ocean exhibit

Run entirely by volunteer Realtors Association of Maui members, the Wishing Well program has collected and contributed more than $1.65 million in goods, services and cash donations to Maui County’s public schools since its inception in 2007. Throughout the year, volunteers collect donated “wish list” items (which run the gamut from pencils to playground balls to scientific calculators to rubber slippers) and distribute them to teachers and school administrators. The 501(c)3 nonprofit organization covers all public schools on Maui, Lana‘i and Moloka‘i and serves approximately 20,000 students. There are no administrative costs, and 100 percent of everything donated goes directly to the schools.

“Because of our high cost of living, our teachers are the most underpaid in the nation, yet they are constantly reaching into their own pockets to purchase items for their classrooms—on average, our teachers spend $1,000 of their own money for educational material and supplies for their classrooms, as well as for their students,” said Sarah Sorenson, founder of the Wishing Well program. “We help them get much-needed supplies, teaching materials and furniture, all to augment their instructional needs for themselves and their students.”

As the program has grown, so have the number of requests from teachers, Sorenson said. In the past, Wishing Well volunteers held annual school supply drives at the entrance of the Kmart store in Kahului. But now that the store has closed its doors, Sorenson says monetary and in-kind donations are more important than ever. One-hundred percent of the money raised at the “Wishes with Fishes” fundraiser on Aug. 11 will benefit Maui County’s public schools. You can help students and teachers by attending the event or by gifting an auctionable item, certificate, monetary donation or service-related contribution.

Tickets for the adults-only “Wishes with Fishes” fundraiser are $100 per person and can be purchased online or in person at the RAM office, which is located at 441 Ala Makani Street in Kahului. Donations are needed year-round; if you’re looking to offload any new or gently used household (no appliances) or office items, call Sorenson at 283-3969.

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