Wildfires in Maui - How you can help

Aug. 18, 2023

Kate Janoski, UAF emergency manager

A tragic event like the destruction brought on by the wildfires in Maui can inspire friends and strangers alike to offer assistance to those impacted and in need. Whenever the question is asked, "How can I help?" the best answer usually given is "money." Donating money is one of the most straightforward and easily managed forms of support because it allows volunteer and non-profit organizations to purchase what is needed for victims and survivors, such as food, blankets, and water. The American Red Cross, the United Way, and other vetted charity organizations and NGOs that are members of the group Voluntary Organizations Active in Disasters, or Hawaii VOAD, are currently accepting donations for disaster assistance in Maui.

Unfortunately, disaster situations like this can also attract those who would take the opportunity to falsely claim that they are collecting funds for victims, to trick unsuspecting donors into thinking that their money will be used to help. To avoid any current and future fundraising scams, consider these tips before clicking that "Donate" button online: 

  • Determine whether the organization, non-profit, or group has a proven track record of delivering aid to those in need.
  • Identify local initiatives and efforts based on the areas most affected by the natural disaster.
  • Please be aware of phone calls and emails asking for donations.
  • Avoid unfamiliar agencies and websites. Scammers have a history of creating websites that look like donation pages after major tragedies.

Following these basic guidelines should help you determine who is a verified agency.

Stay safe out there! 

(sources: FEMA.gov and pbs.org/newshour/nation/how-to-help-survivors-of-the-deadly-wildfires-in-maui)