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If you want to help Maui residents who survived the Lahaina wildfires, financial donations are being taken by the Hawai`i Community Foundation, the Aloha United Way, the American Red Cross and the Salvation Army Hawaii
It's best to send money through reputable charities so you can be sure the funds will go to the people who need it. To research organizations seeking donations go to websites like Charity Navigator, Charity Watch and the Better Business Bureau Wise Giving Alliance.
The Maui Strong Fund created by the Hawai`i Community Foundation has set up a website to show how the money donated is being spent. See what groups are getting money here: https://www.hawaiicommunityfoundation.org/strengthening/maui-strong-fund Groups seeking money to help with relief and recovery efforts can also apply for funds at the same website.
Donations on non-perishable food, bottled water and hygiene products are being accepted on Maui from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. near a vacant unit in Queen Ka’ahumanu Center at the Kane Street entrance, Maui County said. Clothing is not needed, officials said. Donations of goods are also being collected at other locations and businesses on Oahu and Maui.
The Health Department and FEMA have also set up mental health phone numbers for people who are going through depression, anxiety and other emotional distress because of the disasters. The National Distress Disaster hotline number is 800-985-5990. Local counselors are available at 808-832-3100 or 800-753-6879 or call/text/chat 988. Both places can refer you to other agencies. Translation services are also available if you can ask in English for a translator.
A Family Assistance Center for those seeking information on loved ones and for those who are unaccounted is now open daily from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. at the Kahului Community Center, 275 Uhu Street. Staff are working with
families and individuals to gather detailed information and administer DNA swabs. People trying to locate loved ones who may be impacted by the fires also can call the American Red Cross hotline at 1-800-733-2767.
Maui Adult Day Care's Lahaina center burned down during the fire. But the other locations in Kihei, Kahului and Wailuku are taking clients who can get to their facilities outside of Lahaina. Caregivers affected by the disaster who need a safe place for adult loved ones to stay while they focus on disaster recovery can get services at any of the other locations.
Hawai`i Attorney General Anne Lopez is urging residents to use caution when choosing where to send their money and donations.
The AARP Fraud Watch Network also urges caution and notes that unfortunately scammers have tried to take advantage of people’s good will after previous disasters.
The Attorney General notes that any charity that solicits donation in Hawaiʻi must be registered with the Department of the Attorney General, and its status can be verified at https://charity.ehawaii.gov/charity/search.html.
The AARP Fraud Watch Network and the attorney general say you should be suspicious of charity solicitations that:
• Pressure you into making a donation immediately. Take time to do your research.
· Ask for payment by cash, gift card or wire transfer.
· Use names that sound a lot like the names of real charities.
· Make vague and sentimental claims but give no specifics about how your donation will be used.
· Send you a thank-you for a donation you don’t recall making. Making you think you’ve already given to the cause is a common tactic unscrupulous fundraisers use.
If you receive a suspicious charity solicitation, contact the AARP Fraud Watch Network at aarp.org/fraudwatchnetwork or by calling 877-908-3360. You should also contact the Hawai`i Attorney General Tax & Charities Division at (808)586-1480 or by email at ATG.Charities@hawaii.gov.