Mission Mahalo says aloha to King City
Fair family is moving to Hawaii and will continue to send boxes to troops
The word "aloha" means both hello and goodbye in the Hawaiian language, and the time has come to say "aloha" to Mission Mahalo, which is moving to Oahu, Hawaii.
Mission Mahalo was co-founded by Jennifer Fair and her friend Renee Atkins in 2011 as Operation Christmas Glory to send treats and hygiene items to troops and supplies for K-9 units to those on forwarding operating bases primarily in Iraq and Afghanistan, who don't have access to those basic items.
Jennifer moved to King City in the fall of 2010 to become the primary caregiver for her dad Tom, who is a disabled veteran, and stepmom Leanna.
She read a story in the November 2010 issue of the Regal Courier about the King City/Tigard Republican Women's Club sending care packages to troops stationed overseas and was inspired to start her own program.
Jennifer became an avid coupon shopper, filling boxes with toiletries, detergent and other necessities for mere pennies on the dollar, and people from near and far started dropping off coupons at her home.
The Fair home became warehouse central as purchased items were stored there to be put into boxes at various packing parties. The Fairs hosted many packing parties at their home, with dozens of volunteers squeezed in to fill as many boxes as possible.
In addition, two giant packing parties that filled hundreds of boxes were held at the King City Clubhouse in September 2011 and October 2012.
On Jan. 1, 2012, the organization was renamed Mission Mahalo because the old name was sometimes confused with Operation Christmas Child and also gave the impression that the organization only shipped boxes at Christmastime.
Mahalo means thanks, gratitude, admiration, praise and esteem in Hawaiian, and since Jennifer spent 10 years of her childhood there, Hawaiian is a second language to her so the name Mahalo was perfect.
A Mission Mahalo Board of Directors was formed, and in 2012 the organization officially became a registered non-profit in Oregon as well as obtaining its federal 501 (c) 3 status.
Obstacles popped up along the way - the Post Office raised the rates to mail the boxes, and small postal outlets like the one at McCann's in King City stopped accepting hand-written declaration forms.
But Jennifer persevered as more donations came in and some big-business partners joined the cause. But at the heart of the organization were its hundreds of loyal volunteers and at the other end, the grateful troops who showered Jennifer with gifts and thank you notes.
Jennifer joined the King City Lions Club, which became one of her biggest supporters, and their efforts were recognized at the Oct. 27, 2012, demobilization ceremony for the Oregon National Guard's 1186 Military Police Company, which returned from a year-long deployment to Kabul, Afghanistan, and had been the beneficiary of many Mission Mahalo boxes.
Lions club members were invited as VIP guests to the event that was held in Salem to honor the 180 citizen-soldiers who were deployed in October 2011. The Lions club purchased a full-sized American flag for each returning troop at a total cost of $3,500, and members personally handed them out to each soldier.
Jennifer was recognized for all her efforts with a folded American flag that had flown over Kabul.
"We have sent 900 boxes in the last two years," said Jennifer, who added that the family is moving to Oahu due to family obligations there. "I was hoping we would hit 1,000 boxes before we move, but it looks like we won't.
"This is really hard for me to leave, because this is the first place I've had real relationships, but we will continue Mission Mahalo over there."
The Fairs are holding a giant garage sale at their home, 16685 S.W. King Charles Ave., Friday and Saturday, March 1 and 2, from 9 a.m. to noon.
As a thank you to everyone who helped to make Mission Mahalo such a success, the Fairs are hosting a luau at the King City Clubhouse for all the volunteers on Friday, March 8, from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. so they should all consider themselves invited.
"People can still bring toiletries to the luau because we'll still be able to ship some more boxes before we leave," Jennifer said. "We'll be having more packing parties."
Finally, Jennifer sent an email that she wanted to be included at the end of this article:
"There are so many things to say, but it's nearly impossible to thank everyone who has been involved in this project! I have such an amazing support base here, and it is clear that our military men, women, and K-9s are deeply loved by this community.
"With determination I will continue my efforts in Hawaii but not without a sincere debt of gratitude to the 'Ohana' that adopted me here in King City. I will miss you all, terribly. Love, Jenn."