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Donations Welcome In Maui, Vacationers Urged To Reschedule

MAUI, HI -- As rescue and recovery efforts continue in Hawaii, scammers are also at work, taking advantage of the generosity of others. But the Better Business Bureau says there are ways to safely give.

"The outpour that we have had here in Hawaii has been amazing," says Roseann Freitas, with the BBB in Hawaii. She says people looking for ways to donate need to make sure the charity is reputable, "The best way to give is to make sure you kind of check those emotions, which is so hard to do, before you donate. Make sure you’re giving to an organization that can make that impact." She recommends nonprofits that are part of the Wise Giving Alliance, like Maui United Way, American Red Cross or Salvation Army. 

She lives on Oahu, and tells KBND News the recovery effort in Maui is in crisis mode, right now, "They are still searching through the rubble to find remains of people. People on West Maui are isolated. They have limited electricity, if they have it. Water - they’re being told not to drink the water. So, right now, it’s those organizations that can get in there [and] get in there fast." 

There’s no need to rush into a donation; there will be plenty of need long into the future. "Once we get through this initial crisis: you get the fires out and you find the remains of those who didn’t survive, that can take weeks, right now. This is a painstaking process of going building to building. But then, everybody’s been displaced. Not only have people maybe lost their homes, they’ve lost their jobs," says Freitas, "So, it will take a long time for the Lahaina area to rebuild; maybe even a decade." 

Freitas says now is not the time to come to Maui, "If you have a vacation scheduled, please cancel. The resources on the island are strained; even those who live there are not getting things. You will not have an enjoyable experience if you go now." She says the Red Cross is taking sign-ups for people willing to volunteer in Maui later, to help with the future recovery effort. 

If you are looking to give now, she says monetary donations are best because getting items to the island is logistically difficult, "We are out in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, so we have a limited way of getting things. We can’t just drive two hours down the road and find these supplies, so everything is being brought to us." And, if you want the tax deduction, be sure the donation is to a group with 501c3 status.



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