Shop and Score For Your Team

Photos by Coco Zickos

The Times/Kraft Shop and Score program lets fans and parents support their school’s teams just by shopping for certain products

Shop and Score points for your favorite high school athletic department by purchasing Kraft products at Times and Big Save supermarkets across the island now through Oct. 9. Once shoppers declare which school they want to benefit, the more points earned based on items purchased, the more money a school earns. And the more Adidas equipment and uniforms the financially struggling sports teams will ultimately receive.

“Right now any help counts,” says Waimea High School athletic director Jon Kobayashi.

State budget cuts have slashed funding for public high school sports since the economy took a downturn in 2008.

“This gives us extra money to work with, and gives our students school spirit and personal pride,” says Kobayashi, a 1986 graduate of Waimea High.

A large part of the Westside school’s budget is used for its football program, though Kobayashi says it’s not because it’s “king” of the sports; it just takes more money to purchase proper protective gear that needs to be reconditioned and recertified every year for the players.

“Shop and Score frees up money from the budget so that we can share it with the rest of the programs,” he says.

Last year, the school earned around $11,000 through Shop and Score, which allowed the boys basketball team to acquire new jerseys.

“A lot of times we have to beg, borrow and do everything just to come up with the basic needs for our athletes,” says Kobayashi.

Not only is it difficult to come up with money for equipment, supplies and uniforms for the some 40 teams and 20 sports each high school offers, monetarily compensating coaches also has become quite challenging.

Assistant coaches at Kaua‘i High School haven’t been paid for the past three to four years.

“A lot of times, I don’t think parents understand how hard these guys work and the time they put in — and they’re doing it for love,” says Kaua‘i High School athletic director Ross Shimabukuro.

Last year Kaua‘i High earned some $9,500 from Shop and Score, of which a good portion was used toward purchasing Adidas shirts for approximately 80 coaches. The money also is used for soccer equipment and supplies for the students, notes Shimabukuro, who estimates the annual budget for all sports at the school at around $250,000.

“If we can get anything close to what we made last year, we’d be very happy,” says Shimabukuro, a 1973 Kaua‘i High graduate.

Kapa‘a High School athletic director Greg Gonsalves agrees.

“It’s just wonderful to have generous individuals and businesses providing their resources that are needed to help high school athletic programs function, and provide the services that we do for our student athletes,” says Gonsalves, who graduated from Kapa‘a High in 1989.

With the school facing tremendous transportation costs, last year’s donation of nearly $6,000 was particularly appreciated, as it allowed the high school to do more for its student-athletes.

“We’re lucky that people are benevolent and have desires to support high school athletics,” he says.

Kobayashi agrees and is especially thankful to the small Westside community for lending so much support last year.

“If it wasn’t for them, we wouldn’t get anything,” he says.

Not only are all athletic directors thankful for the community support, they are grateful for the generosity of Times Supermarket and Kraft Foods for bringing the program to Kaua‘i for the third year. The program originally started 12 years ago on Oahu. The total amount of funds available for the island’s schools was $50,000. The annual pot has since grown to $250,000 — and the program has expanded to Maui and Kaua‘i.

“We’re pleased to report that since its inception, the program has provided more than $1.3 million worth of Adidas sports equipment and uniforms to island schools,” says Gerald Shintaku of Kraft Foods.

Shintaku was “blown away” by last year’s response on Kaua‘i. Waimea and Kaua‘i high schools were among the top 10 statewide and therefore awarded the most money.

“Kraft Foods remains committed to providing support to our schools and improving the lives of our students,” says Shintaku. “It’s something we recognized many years ago: By fulfilling these needs, we’re helping our kids to grow and to strive to be the best that they can be.”

Tad Fujiwara of Times also recognizes the importance of athletics in a student’s life, and says it enhances their development of teamwork, fitness and character.

Born and raised on Kaua‘i, Times district manager Royden Yamamoto says it feels great to know he is making a difference for student-athletes. His son Koa (17) is a senior at Waimea High School and plays football and volleyball.

“I have five other younger kids … hopefully, they will be playing sports in high school,” he says.

Playing sports is an important aspect in many students’ lives.

“Being part of athletics, you not only stay physically fit and active, you learn all these life skills that are important,” Kobayashi says, “helping them go through the winning and also the losing because it’s all part of life. You win some and you lose some, and how you conduct yourself is very important.”

Some kids would not even be in school if it weren’t for the sports. “It’s so good watching these kids grow up and become successful,” Shimabukuro says.

Gonsalves agrees. “To me, it’s rewarding when we see graduates go off and be successful, obtain a higher education and come back and contribute to our society,” he says.

To help your favorite high school, shop at Times or Big Save stores and purchase products from Kraft, Nabisco, Pepsi, Dreyer’s, Kimberly Clark, Quaker, Love’s, Kellogg’s, ConAgra, Darigold, Jubilee, Sterling Silver Meats and Paramount Export Produce. Each product generates one point at the register for the school of your choice.

The more points a school earns, the bigger its slice of the $250,000 pie.