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"Love Thy Neighbor" gives over 1600 care packages to cannery workers

In the sweltering heat, hundreds of employees from StarKist Samoa and Talofa Systems were at the Suigaula ole Atuvasa Beach Park this past Saturday to pick up their care packages and other items donated by "Love Thy Neighbor" and other local businesses. [photo: courtesy]
compiled by Samoa News staff

Families affected by the 5-week StarKist Samoa shutdown got a sigh of relief last Saturday when close to 1700 care packages containing non-perishable food items were distributed to them — thanks to the efforts of Tapumanaia Galu Satele Jr. and everyone who donated to the "Love Thy Neighbor" program.

Hundreds of employees from StarKist and Talofa Systems gathered at the Suigaula Ole Atuvasa Beach Park in Utulei on Saturday to pick up their care packages.

According to Tapumanaia, 1800 care packages were assembled for StarKist workers, and another 50 were prepared for Talofa Systems employees.

Officials from StarKist Samoa, including Taotasi Archie Soliai and Cassandra Satele were on hand to help with the registration process, which took over an hour to complete.

Tapumanaia told Samoa News yesterday that altogether, 1,687 care packages were distributed and the leftovers will be donated to another worthy cause, he will  confirm which one sometime in the future.

Speaking about Saturday's event, Tapumanaia said, "The turnout was pretty good." In addition to the care packages, he said there were about 900 "specialty items" such as detergent, toiletries, cooking oil, and cereal. "We didn't have enough of these specialty items for everyone so we decided to distribute them using a raffle format."

Randomly, tickets numbers would be called out and whoever held the winning ticket, that person would be presented a specialty item in addition to the care package and other items provided by local businesses.

Cartons of milk from Panamex Pacific were distributed and local wholesaling giant Cost-U-Less also played a huge role in the event, handing out 5% discount coupons. The company also made a generous $5,000 donation that Tapumanaia used to purchase canned food items.

Another local business, Pago Pago Trading Company, came through with 100 cases of soda for the event.

Tapumanaia solicited the help of the LDS Pago West Stake's relief society, under the leadership of president, Adney Reid. The volunteers from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints assisted during Saturday's event, which lasted over 5 hours.

Tapumanaia is grateful for the overwhelming support from the community and private sector, which made the event a success. "There are two objectives for my doing this project," he said. "To honor the Lord's commandment to love one another, and to teach my children the value of love and compassion for those in need."

He continued, "Helping the StarKist workers was the aim; but the bigger picture is to promote love for your neighbor not just for this canned food drive, but everyday. There's a greater lesson involved and it's my prayer that my taking on this project was being an example to people that we can all help each other out. When we care for those around us struggling, we empower them to get by and to find strength to make it through the hard times."

Tapumanaia concluded, "I am thankful and blessed that people have put their trust in me to donate so much to make this possible. Without their trust in me, none of this would be possible. The volunteers of the Pago West Stake played a big role in helping to sort and bag the packages. That took a lot of time and sacrifice from their own families to help make this project a success."