When COVID-19 started taking hold in the United States, Punahou classmates and college seniors Jet Toner ’16, Akahi Troske ’16 and Kyle Yoshino ’16 headed home from the Bay Area to a Hawai‘i that was just starting to come to grips with the pandemic. They knew life would be different, but as store closures and unemployment began to increase, they knew those who could least afford it would pay the highest price.
“We started texting each other and asking, ‘what can we do to help?’” said Toner, a standout kicker on Stanford University’s football team. The trio remembered an idea from their days at Punahou, when they wanted to start a clothing brand. It felt like an opportune time to resurrect the plan, while helping the community. Within a week, HNL Collective was born.
The online shop offers t-shirts, hoodies and stickers, with 100 percent of the proceeds going to help Hawai‘i’s foster care families. The shop also accepts donations.
The trio said they’re grateful for the opportunity to contribute. “We had no expectation of how successful we could be. We just wanted to put in some effort and raise whatever we could, and in the first couple of days, we saw that this is something that people can get behind,” said Yoshino, a senior at Santa Clara University. “Our vision for the future is to help whoever we can.”
Toner said he remembers being inside Central Union Church for Baccalaureate and seeing the words “Love Never Faileth” written on the wall. “We just want to give as much love as we can to this community,” he said.
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