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  • Hawaiian Electric contest winners highlight sustainable gifts just in time for graduation season

Hawaiian Electric contest winners highlight sustainable gifts just in time for graduation season

Three Oahu public school students were chosen as the winners of Hawaiian Electric Company's 2012 Sustainable Gift Contest for their unique, hand-made graduation gifts using recycled, natural, compost-friendly or locally made materials. Entries from 29 finalists were featured at the company's Grow Hawaiian Festival, and winners in three grade categories were selected based on votes from festival attendees.

Entries were judged on Originality, Creativity and Gift Appeal. The three winners are:

• Ashley Kate Zadel, a 5th grade student at Hickam Elementary School, for her sea glass
charms made of "...sea glass washed out by the ocean and brought back in to shore."

• Joshua Chun, a Niu Valley Middle School 8th grade student, for his one-of-a-kind "I
Remember that T-Shirt Wallet" fabricated from an old school t-shirt. Joshua notes, "... it
helps save the earth because the old shirt would have been thrown in the rubbish after it
was used as a rag."

• Tran Dinh, a senior at Roosevelt High School, for her "Live High on the Hog ... SAVE
THE GREEN!" micro piggy bank constructed of plastic bottles, newspaper, cardboard,
bottle caps and recycled printed paper. Her original work of art demonstrates that
"...everyone can make a difference for our environment by recycling, reusing and

Each student won an Apple iPad 2 for their personal use and $100 for their classroom.

"The Sustainable Gift Contest is an extension of our safety and outage prevention program centered on the spring graduation season and metallic balloons," said Briana Ackerman, contest coordinator and an administrator in the education and consumer affairs department at Hawaiian Electric. "We wanted to encourage students to give gifts that are better for the environment, while educating them on the safety and environmental concerns associated with stray metallic balloons." The popular gift item is the leading cause of power outages during May and June, and poses a safety hazard to crews that have to remove the highly conductive material from energized power lines.

"Metallic and latex balloons alike can also threaten marine life," added Ka'iulani de Silva, Hawaiian Electric's director of education and consumer affairs. "According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, stray helium-filled balloons can drift for miles, slowly deflate and eventually settle on the ocean surface where they are mistakenly eaten by birds, turtles and fish which are unable to digest the material."

To prevent power outages and reduce ocean trash caused by metallic balloons, Hawaiian Electric offers these safety tips:

* Always put a heavy weight on the end of the balloon string. If you have a cluster of metallic balloons, each balloon should have its own weight.

* Make sure the string is tied securely to the balloon at the sealing point.

* Use only non-metallic ribbon or string.

* Do not remove the weight until the balloon is properly deflated.

* The best way to deflate the balloon is to cut the balloon at the knot or sealing point.

* Most importantly, never release metallic balloons into the sky.

If you see a metallic balloon caught in a power line, leave it alone and call Hawaiian Electric at
548-7961 to report it.

For more information, visit and click on Safety.

# # #

Photo Caption: Hawaiian Electric's 2012 Sustainable Gift Contest winners shown with their winning gift entries: (Left to right) Ashley Kate Zadel of Hickam Elementary School with her sea glass charms; Joshua Chun of Niu Valley Middle School with his recycled t-shirt wallet; and Tran Dinh of Roosevelt High School with her micro piggy bank constructed of all recycled materials. Each student received an Apple® iPad2 for their personal use and $100 for their classroom. The contest is an extension of Hawaiian Electric's safety and outage prevention campaign to reduce outages caused by metallic balloons during the graduation season. Students were encouraged to create and give hand-made gifts that are better and safer for the environment.


For more than 100 years, Hawaiian Electric Company has provided the energy that has fueled the islands' development from a Hawaiian kingdom to a modern state. Hawaiian Electric Company, Inc. (HECO), and its subsidiaries, Maui Electric Company, Ltd. (MECO), and Hawaii Electric Light Company, Inc. (HELCO), serves 95% of the state's 1.2 million residents on the islands of O`ahu, Maui, Hawai`i Island, Lana`i and Moloka`i.

The energy we use is an essential but limited resource necessary to maintaining our quality of life. In a changing world, Hawaiian Electric has evolved to offer more than electricity.

Today, the company also provides energy solutions to help customers save money and use energy more efficiently. Hawaiian Electric also continues to pursue the use of more clean, renewable energy alternatives to help ensure a sustainable future for our islands.


Hawaiian Electric Company is dedicated to our community in which we live, work and serve. Rooted in Hawaii and one of the largest companies in the State, Hawaiian Electric takes the concept of malama pono -- to care for and serve -- to heart. The company and our employees have a long tradition of contributing with dollars, time and talent. Corporate citizenship is crucial to Hawaiian Electric's overall business plan because strong communities are essential to the success of the company, our employees and our customers.

Company and employee volunteerism is encouraged and every month, employees walk, run or provide manpower to dozens of non-profits throughout the State. Hawaiian Electric's corporate giving philosophy gives priority to projects that help families, promote education and protect the environment.

The company also sponsors robotics programs and events that promote STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering & Mathematics) education, as well as the SunPower for Schools program bringing solar electric power to select schools, the Solar Sprint event where students design, build and race cars using solar power, and the Home Energy Challenge, a school-based competition encouraging elementary school students and their families to reduce energy use at home, among other programs.

For nearly a decade, Hawaiian Electric volunteers have provided manpower, bucket trucks and ladders to install Christmas lights at the Kaimuki Community Park and playground before the annual Kaimuki Christmas Parade in December.

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