Residents of Suffolk County are rallying behind several local fundraising efforts to help Maui, Hawaii, families and business owners affected by the devastating wildfires there last week.
Hundreds of local donors have contributed more than $60,000 to several efforts on behalf of families who have lost homes and other belongings in the fires. The blazes in historic Lahaina have reportedly killed 99 people and damaged or destroyed more than 2,200 buildings and other structures. Hundreds of people remain missing.
Hawaii Gov. Josh Green has said the fires will likely turn out to be the largest natural disaster in the state’s history.
The GoFundMe fundraisers detailed below were established by Suffolk County residents to help their loved ones struggling in the humanitarian crisis in Hawaii.
‘They lost everything’
Damon Reader of Hampton Bays established a GoFundMe drive for several of his relatives who are homeless due to the fires in Maui.
“Keenan & Pam and Carla had their homes completely decimated. They lost everything,” Reader said in her GoFundMe post. “I started this Go Fund Me for those who’d like to help support them. We appreciate all those who have reached out to us already.”
More than 360 donors have contributed nearly $56,000 thus far. Reader said the donations will go toward helping Reader families get settled.
Escaped with ‘the clothes on their back’
Gina Giegerich of Mastic explains on her GoFundMe page that her dad, sister, brother and niece lived in the heart of Lahaina, and that their home and all of their belongings were destroyed.
“The only thing they had time to take was the clothes on their back. They lost their housing, car, clothes and everything in between,” she wrote. “Thankfully, they are safe and were evacuated just in time.”
Giegerich stressed how difficult it’s been to not be able to see her suffering family members and to be so far away from them.
“I am doing everything I can to support them during this time and hope you can rally along with me in support,” she said.
Eighty-four donors have contributed nearly $4,300 to Giegerich’s fundraising effort for her family in Hawaii.
‘Pretty much any thing you can think of’
Zachary Delaisne-Puglisi of Wainscott has raised nearly $1,500 for people in Lahaina who have been adversely affected by the wildfires. Lahaina is a place he has visited often, and in his post, he notes that he has many relatives and friends there.
“Homes, Businesses, Schools, and Childhood Memories are gone in a blink of an eye,” Delaisne-Puglisi posted on GoFundMe. “I wanted to help by making this page to send Aid to Maui (my second home). Many people are without many things, even little essentials.
“Diapers, Water, Clothes, Food, Medical Supplies, Shoes, and pretty much anything you can think of,” he added.
Twenty-five donors have contributed to Delaisne-Puglisi’s effort.
Long Island Surfers Support Maui
Ashley Russell of West Islip has raised nearly $2,000 via her GoFundMe fundraiser for Maui Surfer Girls, Inc. She attended the group’s surf camp for several years as a child, and praised the influential women she met during camp.
“Unfortunately, a lot of these women have lost their homes, and their business is suffering, my goal is to raise enough money to help rebuild Maui surfer girls to give other teenage women a chance to be empowered through surfing,” Russell wrote. “Long Island is not new to tragedy. Me and my husband felt the effects of Sandy and know that if we come together for a community we can help rebuild others.”
Support for homeless DJs
Lindenhurst’s Luis Morales created a GoFundMe effort dedicated to two fellow DJ’s in Maui who have lost their homes and all of their belongings. The fund has raised more than $4,200 as of Wednesday adfternoon.
“I have opened up my house to get them off the island,” he posted. “Maui is my (second) home
“I’ve been (going) there for 20 years,” he continued. “I ask that you please help my 2 brothers who are in desperate need.”
Devastation in Lahaina, Maui
General GoFundMe.com link for Maui fundraisers
Click here for a list of all GoFundMe fundraisers related to the wildfires in Maui.
Top photo: A man walks through wildfire wreckage Friday, Aug. 11, 2023, in Lahaina, Hawaii. Hawaii emergency management records show no indication that warning sirens sounded before people ran for their lives from wildfires on Maui that wiped out a historic town. (AP Photo/Rick Bowmer)