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Hawaii News

Options grow to help Kilauea victims

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Pahoa Community Center shelter.

Major League Baseball player Kolten Wong on Monday stepped up to the plate and launched a GoFundMe campaign for victims of the Kilauea eruptions.

The Hilo-born second baseman for the St. Louis Cardinals posted a personal, four-minute video for the campaign, “Hawaii Natural Disasters Relief.” The Kamehameha Schools graduate, who played for the University of Hawaii at Manoa, aims to raise $200,000 for families displaced by lava eruptions. Within six hours he raised more than $8,000.

Wong said in the video that at first he wanted to offer a personal donation, but realized he could create a larger platform.


>> American Red Cross of Hawaii, 4155 Diamond Head Road, Honolulu, HI 96816; redcross.org/hawaii; 739-8109

>> GoFundMe campaigns, gofundme.com/cause/hawaii-volcano

>> First Hawaiian Bank’s Aloha for Hawaii Fund: Donate at any Hawaii branch or online at hawaii.salvationarmy.org; call 988-2136.

>> Kolten Wong’s video, youtu.be/aNlcARmLK2g

“With the ongoing and present dangers, I have been in contact with numerous groups on the Big Island and will be donating all proceeds from this campaign to various local nonprofits that are on the ground level impacting those affected,” Wong wrote on his GoFundMe page.

Wong said he felt a strong kuleana, or responsibility, to help his people.

More than a half-dozen campaigns are now up on GoFundMe, which has a centralized link for those related to the volcanic eruptions on Hawaii island.

Among the campaigns are “Help Amber Rebuild,” set up for Amber Makuakane, 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.

Fellow teacher Kailina Lewis set a goal of raising $100,000 to help Makuakane. As of Monday evening more than $42,000 had been raised.

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.

The American Red Cross of Hawaii, which is operating two shelters for evacuees, also accepts donations online, via mail or by phone.

The Red Cross had to get the shelters set up in about an hour, according to Pacific Islands Region CEO Coralie Chun Matayoshi, and, thanks to Spectrum and Hawaiian Telcom, are able to provide free Wi-Fi for its residents.

A team of Red Cross volunteers from Oahu will deploy to the Big Island today to assist with sheltering, operations and health serv­ices. The Red Cross said about 40 volunteers have been working tirelessly to assist all evacuees with their immediate emergency needs.

As of Monday evening 50 comfort relief kits had been distributed and 120 health and mental health contacts made.

First Hawaiian Bank is also providing help. In addition to donating $50,000 to Child & Family Service to assist displaced residents with transitional housing and counseling, the bank has established the Aloha for Hawaii Fund to support Kilauea volcano eruption relief efforts as well as flooding recovery efforts on Kauai and in East Oahu.

Donations can be made through May 31 at any of First Hawaiian’s 61 branches in Hawaii, Guam and Saipan to support The Salvation Army’s emergency disaster services. The bank is also sending its Community Care employee volunteers to lend a hand where needed in affected communities.

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