Hilo-born Major League Baseball player Kolten Wong has launched a GoFundMe page for victims of the Kilauea eruptions, called “Hawaii Natural Disasters Relief.”
The campaign, accompanied by a 4-minute personal video from Wong, who has family on Hawaii island and played for the University of Hawaii at Manoa, aims to raise $200,000 for families displaced by lava eruptions.
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Wong, second-baseman for the St. Louis Cardinals, explained that people on Hawaii island respect Pele, the goddess of fire, as a ruler and creator of the Hawaiian isles, and do not try to push the lava in a different direction.
Wong said he felt a strong kuleana, or responsibility, to help his people.
“The one thing I know, man is that I love my people and I’m going to do everything for them,” said Wong in the video. “So I ask you guys humbly, I’m creating this GoFundMe page, it’s going to be in my bio, to go check it out…It’s going to be used in the right way…I’m going to make sure every single dollar you do give is going toward these people to help them rebuild what they have, to get their lives started up again and to help the Big Island rebuild.”
A centralized link for several GoFundMe campaigns related to the volcanic eruptions at Hawaii island is now available.
Among the campaigns are “Help Amber Rebuild.” Amber Makuakane is a Pahoa Elementary School teacher and single mother of two whose home was one of the first five at Leilani Estates to be completely destroyed by lava.
The campaign for Makuakane, started by fellow teacher Kailina Lewis, has a goal of $100,000. As of this morning, more than $36,000 has been raised.
Many of the campaigns are for individuals and their families.
Another campaign includes funds for a family that ran a bed and breakfast, as well as two other businesses, from their home at Leilani Estates.
Joshua and Colleen Block said their lives were changed in an instant on Thursday afternoon. The couple, along with their baby and four dogs, were displaced as lava burst through the road one block away, according to their account. They are staying with family and seeking $25,000 to get through the crisis.
“We plan to give any additional raised funds not spent back to the Leilani community where it is needed,” they said in their GoFundMe post.
GoFundMe takes a 2.9 percent processing fee plus 30 cents per donation, according to spokeswoman Kate Cichy, to cover the cost of third-party credit card processors and the secure transfer of funds. She also said both the Kauai flood-related and Hawaii volcano-related campaigns were backed by the GoFundMe guarantee.