BATH, United Kingdom — Maui is known as a stunning Hawiann island with vibrant culture and tropical landscapes. However, on Tuesday, August 8, Maui had an “abnormally dry” level of drought, according to the U.S. Drought Monitor, and subsequently suffered a major wildfire.
The town of Lahaina, situated in western Maui, bore the brunt of the wildfire’s impact, as the flames advanced swiftly, posing a formidable challenge for firefighters attempting to control the immense blaze.
The fires have caused the death of around 115 people and burnt down more than 2,500 acres, destroying artifacts and museums in historic towns and taking down the homes of hundreds more since early August.
In the face of this crisis, a ray of hope has emerged as celebrities and businesses lend their voices, resources and influence to battle the flames and support the affected communities.
Oprah Winfrey has a profound affection for the islands of Hawaii, and when disaster struck Maui, she wasted no time in lending her support. Winfrey utilized her platform to amplify the voices of local firefighters and volunteers, shedding light on their heroic efforts to contain the wildfires. Furthermore, she committed a substantial personal donation to relief funds, ensuring that those affected receive the resources they need to rebuild their lives and communities. Winfrey is also one of the celebrities helping the citizens of Maui through her action on the ground too, handing out supplies at the War Memorial Stadium evacuation center, one place residents have relocated amid the ongoing wildfire blazes. She has donated and passed out pillows, shampoo, diapers, sheets and pillowcases for people in shelters.
Dwayne Johnson was raised in Hawaii, and he displayed his deep-rooted connection to Maui in a video he posted to his 388 million followers: “I know that, by now, all of you around the world have seen the complete destruction and devastation that has hit our Hawaiian islands — our island of Maui — and I’m completely heartbroken over this and I know all of you are too.”
He used his platforms to promote charities that are helping families dealing with the devastating effects of the wildfires like the nonprofit organization Hawaii Community Foundation. The Hawaiian Community Fund has garnered a staggering $34 million in donations and has already allocated more than $4 million to support over 20 local aid organizations. Notably, the foundation has opted to waive all donation fees, ensuring that every dollar contributed directly addresses the requirements of the community.
Like Dwayne Johnson, Momoa had sent out messages on social media showing his support for Maui. The actor, who spent a significant portion of his childhood on Oahu, empathized deeply with the tragedy unfolding in Maui. Momoa visited affected areas, expressing his solidarity with the locals and sharing messages of resilience. He urged holiday travelers that “Maui is not the place to have your vacation right now. DO NOT TRAVEL TO MAUI” on his Instagram story.
The Chefs for Maui Fundraiser, organized by Guy Fieri, encapsulates the power of collaboration, as acclaimed chefs from across the culinary spectrum come together to contribute their talents for a worthy cause. Fieri has a strong connection to Hawaii, having filmed his TV show in many Hawaiian locations, and he dropped everything to help the people of Maui. The Chefs for Maui Fundraiser provides a 16-course meal by award-winning chefs to raise money for wildfire relief efforts. Fieri’s Foundation, renowned for its transparency and efficiency, ensures that the funds raised will be channeled directly to wildfire relief efforts, including the Salvation Army’s Hawaiian and Pacific Islands division.
In times of crisis, the solidarity and compassion of individuals, particularly influential celebrities helping Maui, can make a tremendous difference. The wildfires that have swept through Maui have served as a poignant reminder of the importance of nonprofit organizations.
– April Plenderleith