• John Barnette

COVID Can't Cancel Christmas

Tyrell's Angels is a nonprofit organization started by Josiah Koria (Founder/President), in honor of his late nephew, Tyrell Ioane Niko. Tyrell, born Feb 2, 2009, sadly lost his life in a car accident on October 1, 2010. He was only 17 months old.


At the time of this tragedy, Josiah (Uncle Siah) was honorably serving in the United States Navy. Following Tyrell's untimely death, Josiah and his family grieved for months. Tyrell's passing, understandably, was both heartbreaking and incomprehensible.


When I asked Josiah to explain the motivation behind Tyrell's Angels (what drives him to do this year in and year out?), he candidly stated that he had hit an all-time low with the passing of his nephew. As a consequence, he made some unfavorable life choices. After some time however, he resolved to use his nephew's death as a springboard for helping others in the community. He started his journey by volunteering his time and energy while on active duty in Virginia. Engaging the community (working with various nonprofits and community members, and assisting service recipients) compelled him to establish Tyrell's Angels in 2012, with the goal of helping children in homeless shelters.

Left to right: Josiah Koria, John Barnette, and Juel Barnette

Each year, for the past 8 years, Tyrell's Angels has conducted an Angel Tree campaign that allows families to sponsor children in several homeless shelters in West Oahu and a homeless encampment in Waianae. Tyrell's Angels creates a wish list of gifts based on the number of families with children who reside in these shelters/encampments and participate in the program. In collaboration with community volunteers who donate (monetarily or in-kind), and/or contribute their time, the nonprofit organization fulfills those wishes, and personally hands out presents to every family on their list. This year, my daughter and I not only got the opportunity to witness this great event, but to also participate by organizing and handing out gifts.

The Angel Tree gift give away took place at the Onemalu Homeless Transitional Shelter in Kapolei, HI. Over 100 children in the shelter received Christmas gifts, stuffed animals, and pizza from Pizza Hut. Volunteers and members of Tyrell's Angels worked together to ensure that the right gifts went to the right households. It was one of the greatest acts of kindness that my daughter and I have observed since COVID-19 restrictions. But the real blessing is that COVID will not cancel Christmas for the 100s of children living in this shelter.

This community organization does much more than just hand out gifts and food during the holiday season. For additional information regarding the various programs facilitated by Tyrell's Angels or the many ways in which you can support their mission, call or text Josiah today at (808) 397-7186, email Tyrell's Angels at tyrellsangels@gmail.com, or visit their Facebook page at Tyrell's Angels.

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