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Thanksgiving donation to Hope House

In the spirit of community service, students and faculty from the Samoan Studies Institute (SSI) at the American Samoa Community College gave the residents of Hope House an early start to the Thanksgiving festivities last week with a donation of gifts and a presentation of traditional Samoan entertainment.

“Caring for the elderly and others in need is a significant part of our culture,” said SSI Director Okenaisa Fauolo-Manila, “and this is a chance for our students to learn about and appreciate the work done at these places such as Hope House and Safe Homes.”

The donation this past Thursday, Nov. 15th, marked the third year in a row that the SSI has visited Hope House during the Thanksgiving season. In addition to the presentation of gifts and an entertainment program organized by the Student Association for Faasamoa (SAF), the visit also gave the SSI students and faculty the opportunity to interact with the Hope House residents.

“For many of the students, this was their first time at Hope House. Some were surprised and some became quite emotional,” Fauolo-Manila observed. For the first time, the SSI also invited children living at the Department of Human & Social Services (DHSS) Safe House to be part of the occasion, and the youngsters also received gifts of reading books and other necessities.

The visit officially got underway with a prayer by Jashua Aiono, followed by a hymn and the performance of four different dances by the SAF, after which that organization’s vice president Mago Faleosalafai Tipa made the formal presentation of gifts to the Hope House residents.

Funded entirely by the SSI students and faculty, the gifts consisted mostly of practical items such as and towels, linen, shampoo, conditioners, lotions, powders and t- shirts. Sister Elsa of Hope House and Sandra Fruean of DHSS both offered remarks of appreciation to the SAF students and SSI faculty present, who included Director Fauolo-Manila, Teleiai Ausage, Sia Achica, Patrick Mafoe, and SAF advisor Nunuimalo Apisaloma Toleafoa.

“It’s important to plant the seed of Thanksgiving and giving back to the community through the hearts of these students,” said Nunuimalo, “so that later in life, they will appreciate what they have and not take things for granted.”

“This is an educational experience for the students, not just in how vital it is that we recognize and support human service organizations in our community, but also in how we can share a positive feeling with those being served, for whom singing and dancing is something they don’t often experience,” reflected Fauolo-Manila.

For the SAF students, many of whom traveled to the Solomon Islands this summer as part of the American Samoa delegation to the Festival of the Pacific Arts, their performance duties are not over just yet. Fauolo-Manila said the SAF will also join the rest of the College for their performance during this year’s Arts Council Christmas Program in December.