Cape Coral family giving to those in need with ‘Operation Spreading Aloha’

A family in Cape Coral is setting an example of what Giving Tuesday is all about. The Viernes family is giving back through their initiative “Operation Spreading Aloha.”

The gifts begin in a wrapping assembly line, started by Kiana’s careful cuts. “I wrap the presents. I’m very anal about perfection with presents,” said Kiana Meyer.

Her brother, Jaiden helps with the taping. “I just rip off the little pieces of tape and put it on the table and it’s perfect,” said Jaiden Meyer.

Along with their two other sisters, Roxy and Malia, they’re buying and wrapping more than 600 gifts for over 100 Lee County families who otherwise may not have had a Christmas this year.

“My favorite part is just seeing the kids faces when getting their gifts and seeing how happy they are,” said Roxy Viernes.

Layla Viernes said they just wanted to help. “A lot of families are just trying to get back on their feet and trying to make ends meet, catching up on bills,” said Viernes.

Four years ago, the family started “Operation Spreading Aloha.” Layla says the kids came to her with the idea. “One night, we were just sitting at dinner asking the kids what they wanted for their Christmas presents and they couldn’t tell us what they wanted. Instead, they said they wanted to help our community and give back,” said Viernes.

Their mission to give back has now come full circle. Six years ago, the family fell on hard times after their father retired from The Army after 26 years of service.

Layla said, “It gets very emotional and sad.” Then she paused and continued emotionally.  “Because we’ve been in their shoes. It gives us a joy to be able to give back to families in need like we were.”

“It’s rewarding to see other people get what they deserves and what they need the most at this time,” said Jaiden.

“It’s just knowing that you’re doing a good deed and not because you have to do it, but because you want to do it,” Kiana said.

Then, 6-year-old Malia tops those perfectly wrapped gifts with a shiny bow and adds lots of love.

Reporter:Taylor Petras
Writer:Drew Hill
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