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Despite loss of its facility, Salvation Army ready to serve

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  • CINDY ELLEN RUSSELL / CRUSSELL@STARADVERTISER.COM
                                The Salvation Army has been preparing and receiving donated meals, then distributing them to thousands of people affected by the Lahaina fire. In partnership with the University of Hawaii Maui College culinary instructors, corporate and local restaurants and Hopper Maui, the meals are ferried from the UHM campus to West Maui. Above, Lahaina resident Lori Jay, right, pushed a dolly with food Friday as Hopper Maui owner Jacques Perwin looked on. Behind Perwin are Salvation Army captains Craig Kawika Rodriguera and Samuel LeMar.

    CINDY ELLEN RUSSELL / CRUSSELL@STARADVERTISER.COM

    The Salvation Army has been preparing and receiving donated meals, then distributing them to thousands of people affected by the Lahaina fire. In partnership with the University of Hawaii Maui College culinary instructors, corporate and local restaurants and Hopper Maui, the meals are ferried from the UHM campus to West Maui. Above, Lahaina resident Lori Jay, right, pushed a dolly with food Friday as Hopper Maui owner Jacques Perwin looked on. Behind Perwin are Salvation Army captains Craig Kawika Rodriguera and Samuel LeMar.

Although the Salvation Army lost its facility in Lahaina, the nonprofit is doing what it does during times of disaster: feeding and serving people in need.

The Salvation Army’s Lahaina Lighthouse Corps facility burned to the ground in wind-whipped fires Aug. 8, according to Maj. Troy Trimmer, divisional commander of The Salvation Army-Hawaiian and Pacific Islands Division. The facility was the core community center, along with the envoy’s residence and thrift shop, all of which served West Maui.

Trimmer said the Salvation Army has not been able to return to Lahaina to assess its facility, but has seen aerials of the area.

“Aerial confirmation pretty much confirms everything is gone,” he said. “And yet we’re incredibly fortunate. All of our personnel, our primary volunteers, our envoy and our case manager were able to get to safety, so we’re extremely relieved with that.”

All that appears to be left is the remainder of a Salvation Army box truck, he said. And the Salvation Army is still concerned about other personnel and patrons that may not have made it to safety.

The Salvation Army moved to its Kahului facility and has been serving meals for evacuees since the first night of the disaster, he said, alongside The Red Cross at the shelters.

So far, it has prepared roughly 29,000 meals and coordinated 153,000 meals at dozens of locations alongside other nonprofits and organizations. Officers, staff and volunteers have invested over 4,100 hours in disaster response efforts.

Well known for its annual service of Thanksgiving meals, The Salvation Army feeds those in need year-round and during times of disaster.

“In addition, we do emotional/spiritual care on a regular basis,” he said, adding that it is not professional counseling. “That’s just being present with people, talking story and giving them a cup of cold water and loving them to the best of our ability. We do that in every disaster, and it’s been instrumental in this disaster as well.”

A person requested a visit to a family, for instance, that was isolated without power, he said. The Salvation Army sent a team to visit them, with food, and to let them know they were not alone.

The Salvation Army is also at the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s Disaster Recovery Center to provide help.

“This unfortunately is going to be a long, long recovery,” he said. “The level of devastation is amazing. I don’t think any of us who live in Hawaii can wrap our heads around it. Yet the response is also amazing — the benevolence of the community, the aloha spirit, the willingness of people to reach out and help your neighbors.”

To support the Salvation Army’s Maui response relief work, visit hawaii.salvationarmy.org.

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