For over a year now, one local family has been helping to malama the environment while also making wishes come true through their recycling and fundraising initiative, Recycle4Wishes. Started by 10-year-old Sophia Yu, the program just made its first $1,200 donation to Make-A-Wish Hawaii. Sophia and her family, along with Make-A-Wish Hawaii Chief Development Officer Madalyn Kenney joined us to talk more about the program.

Sophia started the initiative last year after learning a classmate of hers was fighting cancer. With a desire to make a difference, Sophia approached her father, Dr. Jeffrey Yu, about making a donation in her friend’s honor to Make-A-Wish Hawaii. Dr. Yu encouraged Sophia to think about ways to make a more lasting impact, which led to the idea for a recycling program benefiting Make-A-Wish Hawaii.

Since then, Sophia and her co-CEO, 8-year-old sister Allison, have grown the project through word of mouth. Originally pulling a wagon of recyclables from neighbors, the girls now have earned partnerships with local companies, performing regular recyclable pickups with their family. They’ve also created a website,, where people can coordinate personal pickups or volunteer to assist with the initiative.

The Yu family recently made their first $1,200 donation to Make-A-Wish Hawaii, which Chief Development Officer Madalyn Kenney says will go toward granting life-changing wishes for Hawaii keiki with critical illnesses.

Sophia and Allison also plan to donate an additional $1,000 of prize money to the organization after earning honorable mention in a business plan competition through Chaminade University.

“I’m a physician, so I’ve seen how illness affects kids and their families,” says Dr. Yu. “Anything we can do to make their lives better is important, and this is also just such a wonderful learning opportunity for the girls.”

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