A community in Hawaii is spreading the power of aloha after coming together to purchase a car for a hard-working security officer.
It all started when Aina Townsend, 22, a security guard from the island of Maui in Hawaii, was working at Foodland supermarket in Kahlui last month. While on his shift, he found a brown wallet left behind in one of the shopping carts. After figuring out who it belonged to, Townsend decided to return the wallet to its owner.
“I lost stuff before too,” said Townsend, who recalled several times when his lost items were never returned. “I would greatly want someone to come forward and do the same if I lost something.”
The wallet belonged to 30-year-old Chloe Marino of Maui, who didn’t realize her wallet was missing until Townsend came to return it in person that same day.
“It was just such a selfless act and you know, he wasn’t expecting anything in return,” Chloe Marino said. “He said, ‘I wanted to return it to you so you didn’t have to be without it for the holidays.'”
While Townsend didn’t expect anything in return, Chloe’s husband, Gray Marino, was touched by the selfless gesture and wanted others to know, so he shared the moment on Facebook.
“I was completely in awe to know that he rode his bicycle 3 1/2 miles,” said Gray, who mentioned that Townsend didn’t have a car and still rode his bike to his second job at Kahului Airport after returning Chloe’s wallet.
Gray described the event as an “aloha moment.” “Aloha,” Gray explained, is more than a hello or goodbye in Hawaii, but a warm welcome and a gesture of love, especially toward strangers.
“By showing an aloha moment, doing something that’s right and showing that love to someone that you don’t know, just out of the kindness of your heart, that’s what I call an aloha moment,” said Gray. “This really was. [Townsend] went out of his way to do something with no expectation for anything in return other than just to do the right thing.”
As Gray’s good news spread on social media, it also caught the attention of his business partner, Greg Gaudet.
“I connected with Aina’s story because I’ve taken the bus and know how challenging that is,” said Gaudet. “I know if you’re riding your bike every day to work as a security guard, you’re working hard. … It takes a lot of time and effort to ride your bike to work and bus and things like that. I can only imagine getting off work and then choosing to go out of your way and ride your bike to another town to bring this person the wallet back.”
“It just really jumped out at me, I thought it was a really, really selfless act. Really showed a lot of character,” he added.
So, Gaudet started a GoFundMe page aiming to raise money to help purchase a car for Townsend. Their initial goal was $5,000, but it quickly grew to $20,000.
The effort also resonated with KarMART, a new and used Volkswagen and Mitsubishi dealership in Maui, which wanted to contribute. With their help, they were able to provide a discount on one of their vehicles and contribute with dealership fees. Townsend was also able to choose his own vehicle: a 2017 Volkswagen Jetta, which he says has helped him tremendously traveling to and from his two jobs and running errands for his family.
Townsend, the Marinos and Gaudet hope the story inspires others to do the right thing in similar situations.
“All the credit goes to Aina for doing the right thing,” said Chloe.