With an initial $10 million gift, Oprah Winfrey and Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson have started a relief fund for the Maui wildfires. Direct cash aid will be given to those impacted by the flames in Maui, which destroyed the villages of Kula and Lahaina and claimed at least 115 lives earlier this month. The wildfires will be handled by the People’s Fund of Maui, a fund within the Entertainment Industry Foundation.
The fund intends to give $1,200 a month to anyone over the age of 18 who lost their principal dwelling in the fires, including tenants but excluding property owners who do not live in the residence. The fund is financed by public donations and the initial grant by Winfrey and Johnson. In a statement, Winfrey said, “I have been meeting with people in the community who were affected by the fires over the last few weeks, asking what they most needed and how I could be of service.”
“The primary issue I’ve been hearing is how they plan to proceed given the tremendous financial strain. My goal is to help people affected as they decide how to rebuild because the community has come together in so many good ways. Winfrey was spotted earlier this month distributing supplies at a Maui evacuation centre. She admitted to the BBC that the circumstances were “a little overwhelming” but expressed gratitude for the opportunity to help locals in need.
For fifteen years, the celebrity has owned property in Maui. As people from all around the world observed the devastating death and destruction brought on by the Maui wildfires, they were also able to see the incredible spirit and resiliency of our Polynesian culture as well as the incredibly strong people of Maui. Johnson, whose Samoan ancestry and part of his childhood were spent in Honolulu, said in a statement that even under the most trying circumstances, the people of Maui band together and rise.
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He stated, “We are fortunate to be collaborating with respected Maui community leaders to introduce the People’s Fund of Maui. “These leaders are donating their advice so that our fund can put money in the hands of those who will need it most. Thank you to everyone who has already offered support. For those who wish to aid right away, your prayers and donations will be greatly appreciated by those who are displaced within the Maui community.
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I also want to express my sincere gratitude to all the first responders, neighbourhood groups, and everyone else who has valiantly worked locally to address this situation. The creation of the fund was guided by community elders, leaders and residents including Hōkūlani Holt-Padilla, Keali’i Reichel, Archie Kalepa, Ekolu Lindsey, Kimo Falconer, Tiare Lawrence, Kaimana Brummel, Kaleikoa Ka’eo, Brian Keaulana, Kaimi Kaneholani, Henohea Kāne, Paele Kiakona, Ed Suwanjindar, Shep Gordon and the actor Jason Momoa.