Ready to Learn FAQs for Donors

What is Ready to Learn?

The Ready to Learn (RTL) program focuses on the needs of school-aged students from grades K to 12. Initially founded in 1999 in partnership with the late U.S. Senator Daniel and Maggie Inouye, its purpose is to ensure that low-income and homeless students throughout Hawai‘i have basic school supplies for their education. In 2005, Helping Hands Hawai‘i (HHH) assumed statewide administration of this initiative, and together with our community partners, we assist approximately 7,000 students each year.

Who does this program help?

RTL works with local organizations and non-profits to identify students who need assistance, and through a referral process, students receive free educational kits for the new school year. For more information about how to become a referring organization or how to be referred, contact James Li at (808) 440-3812 or

How are school supplies distributed?

There are two primary methods of distribution:

Through Ready to Learn:

HHH receives referrals from our network of community partners and social service providers. A standard school supply kit is assembled for each student and distributed to them through the referring organization before the beginning of the school year.

Through the Community Clearinghouse:

School supplies collected through fundraising efforts during the summer are distributed throughout the rest of the year from the Community Clearinghouse. More info of the Clearinghouse can be found here:

How can I support Ready to Learn?

Anyone who wants to support low-income and homeless students who face educational challenges due to financial hardship can become a donor. You can coordinate a school supply drive for the RTL program within your company or organization, or you can make an individual contribution yourself. A $10 donation can provide one student with a basic school supply kit. Click here to download the RTL Community Partner Application.

How can I donate?

Visit Helping Hands Hawai‘i or one of our partners to donate school supplies or make a monetary contribution. A list of collection sites and partnering agencies will be listed on our website and updated as more partners join the effort.

You can also visit our website,, and click on the Donate Now link to make an online contribution. All online donations from 6/1/17 – 7/31/17 will be earmarked for the RTL program.

Donations by mail may be sent to:

Helping Hands Hawai‘i
Attn: Ready to Learn program
2100 N. Nimitz Hwy
Honolulu, HI 96819

What school supplies should I donate?

The top 10 requested school supplies are:

  • 1-subject Spiral Notebook
  • Blunt Kids Scissors
  • 4oz.-size Glue
  • 24-count Crayons
  • Calculator
  • College or Wide-rule Folder Paper
  • Composition Book
  • Erasers
  • Portfolios
  • 12″ Rulers

All school supply donations for Ready to Learn must be new. If donors have gently used items, such as backpacks, they can donate the items to our Community Clearinghouse, which gives material goods to individuals and families for free.

HHH also purchases school supplies in bulk at a discounted rate from our supplier. This ensures the most economical and effective use of funds and enables the creation of standardized kits for all participants.

When can I donate?

School supply donations and monetary gifts are accepted and distributed to students year round at Helping Hands Hawai‘i through our Ready to Learn program or our Community Clearinghouse. However, the main fundraising effort for the 2017-2018 school year is from June 1, 2017 to July 31, 2017. Our goal is to distribute educational kits to students before their first day of school.

How can I help in addition to donating supplies and/or money?

The community can help out by volunteering at HHH. As a non-profit social service agency, volunteer support is an extremely valuable and essential part of our operation. Specifically for the RTL program, we are seeking volunteers to help us put together the educational kits for the students.

If you or your organization would like to volunteer for RTL, complete the RTL Community Partner Application and email it to The RTL team will contact you with more information. Alternatively, you may contact Kristine Garabiles at (808) 440-3881 for info.

For general volunteer information, visit our website:

How people can receive help from Helping Hands Hawai‘i?

We operate a variety of programs at HHH that provide a wide spectrum of services, such as material assistance from the Community Clearinghouse, financial assistance for rental and utility payments through the Emergency Assistance Program, assistance with public benefits through SNAP outreach and specialized behavioral services that include representative payee services and case management. Eligibility for assistance depends on the need and the requirements of each program. More info on our programs can be found here:

Who can I contact for more information?

For information about referring organizations or how to be referred, contact James Li at (808) 440-3812 or

For information about how to become a Ready to Learn donor or volunteer, contact Kristine Garabiles at (808) 440-3881 or

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