Punahou’s Jet Toner launches HNL Collective, aiming to help families in need during COVID-19 crisis


Stanford place kicker Jet Toner (26) kicks a field goal against Northwestern in the first half during an NCAA college football game on Saturday, Aug. 31, 2019, in Stanford, Calif. (AP Photo/Tony Avelar)

To Stanford kicker Jet Toner, the HNL acronym is more than a location — it’s also a way of life.

While it’s true that he honed his craft at Honolulu’s Punahou School, ‘Heart Never Loses’ became a personal mantra of his during his years with the Buffanblu and is now the basis behind an endeavor of his to help those in need.  

As coronavirus continues to upend the daily lives of countless people worldwide, Toner has started HNL Collective, a website that sells clothing with 100 percent of the proceeds going towards those affected by the pandemic.

“I think the Heart Never Loses slogan was made up while I was in high school playing football at Punahou. To me, it’s a way of not just about sports but also about life,” Toner said. “My mom (Aundrea) was my soccer coach all the way from AYSO days to high school and she always would tell me if you leave everything you got, you’ll never lose a game — you’ll just run out of time. So for me, regardless of the circumstances, that’s something that I live by and the circumstances that we’re in right now.

“Personally, I’m not struggling as much as other people from different communities but certainly everyone is affected by this. Even if the worst thing that’s happened to you is that you have to stay at home, you might feel lonely or disconnected from society, you’re still affected so I think regardless of who you are, this is a motto that you can adopt to kind of give back to your community and persevere through these uncharted waters in society.”

Toner founded HNL Collective with two Punahou classmates, Kyle Yoshino and Akahi Troske. HNL hoodies ($50), T-Shirts ($25) and a logo sticker ($5) make up the inventory for now, although custom donation amounts can be made on the website without purchases.

Kyle Yoshino, Jet Toner and Akahi Troske (Courtesy Jet Toner)

Shipping for the clothing items are free, and the money will go towards families in need taking care of foster babies. The initial goal of $2000 has already been met, but Toner says the team won’t stop there.

Jet Toner and his mother, Aundrea

“The state for an infant gets $810 a year to diaper and clothe a baby,” Toner explained, who projects that the actual cost of doing so ranges from $1500 to $2000. “So all that money has to come out of the family’s pocket. That doesn’t include other essentials that babies need. With the current situation, I think everybody’s seen this by now, but 25 percent of Hawaii’s workers filed for unemployment.

“Many of those families are taking care of foster care babies. Our goal is to put money in the hands of people who are going to use it immediately.”

HNL Collective also plans to team up with the Hawaii Resilience Fund.

“That’s a fund that we’ve been watching closely,” Toner said. “We believe they’ve been doing a really good job of allocating resources to different programs and charities and COVID relief. That’s our plan once we reach that goal just so we can give back to the community and spread our donation out.”

If there is a college football season to be played in the fall, Toner will be a redshirt senior. He is currently in the process of working with Stanford’s compliance department to make sure he isn’t putting his eligibility at risk. But because he isn’t profiting from the endeavor, Toner is confident he’ll be fine. Clemson’s Trevor Lawrence and Texas’ Sam Ehlinger are both returning college football players that have started fundraisers of their own.

Toner set a Cardinal program record for kick percentage (.933) by making 14 of his 15 field goal attempts during the 2018 season. His 2019 season was cut short due to a torn ACL and meniscus in his kicking leg. He is currently five months removed from surgery but is confident he’ll be ready for the fall. Beyond that, he still has NFL aspirations.

“I’m gonna keep working and regardless of what happens, I hope to play in the NFL. I’ll give that my best shot for sure,” he said. “But I’ll keep training regardless. I know things will clear up soon. Maybe not as soon as we hope, but it definitely will so I’m gonna keep working and make sure I’m doing all that stuff so I’m where I need to be at any given time.”

Between rehab on his knee, virtual spring football practice and his duties for HNL Collective, Toner is also finishing his Science, Tech and Society degree online from his home in the North Shore. Stanford was one of the first schools in the country to transition to online learning amid the COVID-19 pandemic. Despite not being able to walk the graduation stage in Palo Alto this spring, Toner will get started on a master’s degree in Communications in the fall.

As busy as Toner is during this time of uncertainty, he’s embracing every minute.

“It’s not too bad. Luckily I have a lot of guys helping me out, a bunch of guys taking the lead in a lot of critical spots. It’s been fun,” he said. “I hope that I can have an impact on not just myself but everyone behind HNL Collective. I hope we have an impact on people and foster this community and a sense of solidarity, really, during a time of separation and uncertainty and social isolation. Even then, people can feel a part of something bigger than themselves and regardless of what situation you’re in, you can always give back to your community and Hawaii is a place that takes incredible pride in where we come from.

“Regardless of where we might be emotionally, I hope that we can at least be a light in feeling that solidarity, community love. Even when it’s all over, I can look back on all of this and say that we helped everyone feel more together at a time of loneliness and all that kind of stuff.”

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