Giving Back for the Holidays
An interview with Boards 4 Buddies founder Brit Oliphant
On our latest trip to Hawai‘i, we teamed up with Brit Oliphant from Board 4 Buddies to surprise some deserving keiki (children) with brand new surfboards. We had read about Brit and the work she was doing for her community in a recent news article, and we knew we had to get involved.
Mahalo to Brit and her team for giving us the opportunity to spread joy.
“Gratitude is such an important character trait. I try to instill that in my students daily. We all have so much to be thankful for.” -Brit Oliphant
Why did you start your Boards 4 Buddies?
I’m an elementary school teacher, and Boards 4 Buddies was inspired by a student in my fourth-grade class. I had tried everything I could to get him excited about learning, it wasn’t until I gave him a writing assignment about skateboarding that I saw him really put effort into his schoolwork. I learned later that he didn’t have a board of his own, so I reached out to my good friend and professional skateboarder Zach Miller. Zach ended up giving the kid two boards… and thus began Boards 4 Buddies!
Can you tell us more about the organization’s mission?
Our goal is to connect deserving youth with new and pre-loved surf and skate equipment along with the necessary safety and accessory gear to put it into play. Essentially, we serve as the bridge between people‘s old or forgotten-about equipment and the kids that would really love to give it a second life!
That’s incredible. So, what was the goal of this specific effort?
OluKai reached out to me this summer. Your team had read our story on NPR and thought that our organization really matched your mission. We decided to join forces and stoke out some kids at a low-income school on O‘ahu’s North Shore with brand-new surfboards.
What does your giving process look like from start to finish?
There are several steps to our giving process. Step one is collaborating with area principals, teachers, and counselors in an effort to identify deserving kids who would benefit from a surf or skateboard. Step two is collecting boards from community members, and repairing them to a safe and usable state. OluKai was extremely generous and bought the six kids that the school selected brand new surfboards. This really saved us a lot of legwork, and really stoked out the kids!
We’re so glad they were stoked! How does it feel to make all of this possible?
People often ask me how I have the time and energy to run Boards 4 Buddies while also working full-time as a teacher. All of my work is volunteered, but when I get to share the joy of surfing and skating with underserved kids it is the best gift in the world. It’s hard to describe the feeling that I get, but it feels like I am where I am supposed to be, doing exactly what I’m supposed to be doing. Maybe that’s how Santa Claus feels?
Speaking of Santa, why is giving back around the holidays especially important?
Being a teacher in a Title1 school with a diverse student population, you have to be really careful around the holiday season. As many of us are getting prepared for big trips and family celebrations, some kids are dreading a break from school and wondering if they will be fed, or properly cared for. Although a surfboard or skateboard is just one simple thing, for some kids a skateboard can be the transportation that they needed to get from point A to point B, or a surfboard can be a healing tool that takes their mind away from hardships they may be facing at home.
What are you most grateful for?
I am grateful for my community, which has supported me wholeheartedly through the grassroots beginnings of Boards 4 Buddies. I can’t even count the number of people who have helped via board donations, time, or words of encouragement. This project is all of ours, it’s for our keiki (children), and we are only just getting started!
That brings us to our last question: What does “mahalo” mean to you?
Directly translated, Mahalo means thank you…but when spoken from the heart, it means so much more. Gratitude is such an important character trait. I try to instill that in my students daily. We all have so much to be thankful for.
If you want to learn more or donate to Boards 4 Buddies, visit www.boards4buddies.org or follow them at @boards4buddies.
Boards 4 Buddies is currently accepting donations of new or used gear on Maui and O‘ahu and looking to expand to the other islands soon! Monetary donations are also greatly appreciated and help with shipping, repair, and accessory equipment expenses. Mahalo!