The girls, who ranged from fourth to 10th grade, made more than 800 holiday bookmarks, necklaces, ornaments and other crafts. Along with a few boys, they worked with a happy energy singing along to music and talking with friends before presenting the crafts to the Keiro seniors at lunchtime.
“Kids for Keiro” was launched several years ago by Keiro Senior HealthCare and JAO Girls Basketball as a way to deepen ties between the two organizations. According to Beverly Takaoko Ito, a Keiro administrator, whose daughter Kimi plays for the Pasadena Bruins Bombers, several of Keiro’s founders were JAO members and they wanted to continue the connecting across generations.
“I think it’s important for young people to know what Keiro does because we’re counting on the next generation to care for seniors,” Ito said and this event helps reinforce the values of respect for elders (“keiro”) and community service.
JAO Basketball Commissioner Leland Lau said the handmade gifts let seniors know that the youth cares about them and in turn, the youth have a chance to interact with the elders who built up the community for them.
“It’s good for JAO players to come here to show that we don’t just play basketball; we actually care about the community too,” said Keilee Bessho of the Pasadena Bruins Keiki Ohana.
“One day we’ll be them and we’ll need help too,” said Corie Pitpit of the Tigers Elite.
“It shows that we care,” said Marissa Vensel of the Venice Sparkles.
“This will help the seniors get better and live longer,” said Caryn Iwakiri of the FOR Firecrackers.
The number of participating teams increased by eight this year to 27: San Fernando Angels, Ninjas, Rockets and Lil Wahines; Saberette Slammerz and Sparks; FOR Ohana Girls, Stingrays, Firecrackers, Hoku, Butterflies, Triple Threat, Aloha Girls, Kool Kats and Lady Dragons; West Los Angeles Nalukai and Thundercats; Tigers Elite, ABC, Fireworks, Dream, Flying Tigers and TD2; Venice Sparkles; Pasadena Bruins Keiki Ohana, Mustangs and Ikaika Warriors.