‘A Blue Collar Christmas’ brings holiday joy to foster children and victims of abuse

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The holidays can be overwhelming for children in need, so the United Public Workers local union wants to spread some cheer.

Photos courtesy of the United Public Workers (UPW) AFSCME Local 646, AFL-CIO.

The United Public Workers AFSCME Local 646, AFL-CIO hosted its first Blue Collar Christmas on Dec. 3 at the Hilo YMCA. Together with their families, the union is helping make the holidays brighter for more than 80 children on the Big Island in the foster care system or victims of trauma and abuse.

The children and their families enjoyed arts and crafts, a photo booth and prize drawings. The day ended with a surprise visit from Santa Claus carrying a bag full of presents.

Member volunteers shopped the children’s wish list for gift items, including LEGO Building Blocks, a Fuji Film instant camera, Bluetooth speakers and a robotics kit. The purchases were made possible through the generous donations of United Public Workers and community members throughout the state.


The union hosted the event in partnership with local organizations to serve keiki enrolled in programs under Catholic Charities of Hawai‘i.

“The donations, the volunteers and the overall outpouring of love from our communities helped to make this event a success,” said UPW State Director Kalani Werner in a press release. “Together, we are healing the hearts and minds of children who have survived unthinkable experiences and those living through the uncertainty of a temporary placement in our foster care system.”


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