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Group asks help to feed needy after trucks are damaged

    A falling tree has caused up to $75,000 worth of damage to essential equipment and facilities at Feed My Sheep's headquarters in Puunene, endangering food distribution to thousands of people in need on Maui.

About 300 of Maui’s hungry could miss Thanksgiving dinner this year because of an accident at a mobile food kitchen.

A large eucalyptus tree fell Friday at the site of Feed My Sheep’s headquarters in Puunene because of dry soil from the drought. It damaged three of the nonprofit’s seven trucks, a 24-foot refrigeration unit and the office trailer. No one was hurt, but organization officials estimate damage at up to $75,000.

"It’s kind of crippled us," said Joyce Kawakami, executive director of Feed My Sheep, which serves about 9,500 people at six locations on Maui every week. She said if they don’t get another box truck soon, they may be forced to close the Kihei site Saturday, when Thanksgiving dinner is delivered.

Kawakami remains determined to get food to the needy and is reaching out to the public for help, especially during the biggest delivery week of the year.

"We don’t stop," she said. "Nothing stops us. There’s people who need food and services. We can’t not do it. We’re going to have to make it work somehow."

Feed My Sheep serves about 85 percent of Maui’s hungry, from children to senior citizens, passing out 10 pounds of dry food and produce to each person each week.

The group borrowed a pickup truck yesterday to deliver food in Kihei, the smallest of the three sites it delivers to on Saturdays, but could deliver only about half of the usual 3,000 pounds for the 300 clients.

A Thanksgiving delivery this week will include stuffing, mashed potatoes, cranberries and possibly pie. Certificates are handed out for fresh turkeys.

Feed My Sheep hopes to make its Thanksgiving deliveries for Hana on Wednesday; Lahaina and Honokowai on Thursday; and Wailuku, Haiku and Kihei on Saturday.

The tree damaged two vehicles and destroyed one delivery van. If the office trailer cannot be repaired, it will cost $25,000 to replace.

While the nonprofit had insurance on the vehicles, the 33-year-old van was so old that the payout won’t cover a replacement, Kawakami said.

In addition, it could take weeks before the group is able to repair the refrigerator and receive perishable produce.

Feed My Sheep is asking for monetary or in-kind donations and is seeking volunteers to rebuild from the damage. Visit or call Kawakami at 872-9100 to make a donation.


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