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For the eighth year in a row, ACE American Industries America Samoa has conducted its  ‘Helpful Hands’ Program, which reaches out to help local schools — both public and private — that are in need of renovation and repairs.


According to the Helpful Hands Program, students, teachers and alumni were invited to write a one-page essay to ACE explaining why their school needed a ‘Helpful Hand’. In the past, ACE would choose three different schools and would split the $10,000 prize three ways— with the first place school receiving $5,000, the second place, $3,000 and the third place school receiving $2,000.


This year according to ACE’s Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Ngaire Ho Ching, they decided to give the whole amount of $10,000 to one deserving school.


The winning school this year is Marist St. Francis Elementary in Lepua with the winning essay written by 8th grade student La-Finne Sele.


At a small ceremony conducted on Wednesday at the ACE American Industries store in Malaeimi, CEO Ho Ching presented the $10,000 check to the school. She noted, “This is the eighth year of our community outreach program that we have been giving to our schools in American Samoa, because we believe that it is through the schools that we can make a big difference.


 “We understand that the children’s environment can be impacted very much by what they have in the classroom. This is why ACE made this decision eight years ago to contribute in a meaningful way,” she explained.


The building materials, worth $10,000 can include electrical supplies, lumber, plumbing, paint and other materials needed to fix up the school.


She said that they received a total of 319 essays that represented a total of 29 schools and were very grateful for the response. She also stated that this year, the needs from the public schools were not as critical as in the past, mainly due to the outreach program called "Adopt A School" that was put in place by Governor Lolo.


“We congratulate the governor and all of his directors for their wonderful work,” said Ho Ching. She also explained that his year, instead of giving $5,000, $3,000 and $2,000 to the top three schools, it was decided to award one school the full amount of $10,000 as this full amount would make a huge impact in their school year and for many years to come. She said that Marist St. Francis student La-Finne Sele did a wonderful job in articulating her essay, which led to her school being the recipient.


La-Finne, in her remarks, said that her essay was about the stairs and restrooms in the school and how they needed repairs. “I want to thank ACE and my principal, teachers and parents. I feel really great about helping my school,” she said. 


The principal of Marist St. Francis, Makerita Lelevaga said that she was very thankful for being the recipient school. “I was so overwhelmed and thankful when I heard that we were the one that was picked and were getting the full amount. I thank God for the blessing our school has received. I also thank ACE for the program that they do annually. We will definitely be involved in this essay writing every year,” she said.


ACE American Industries is owned by the Scratch family, with over 100 employees under the leadership of CEO Ngaire (Scratch) Ho Ching, and has been in business in American Samoa for some 29 years.


The company says they "look forward to continuing this program each year, and wish to thank everyone who participated and showed their school spirit. Being able to give back to the community is the direct result of the support from customers over the many years."


Samoa News congratulates the winning school and the student whose essay made it possible, as well as offering ACE American Industries a hearty thank you for its continued help to the community.