(COLORADO SPRINGS) — Hawaiian natives in Colorado Springs are providing for the people of Maui following what officials are calling the deadliest wildfire disaster in the country’s history.
Thousands of miles away from home, the local Polynesian community continues to look after their “Ohanas,” or families, while dealing with loss and uncertainty.
“My uncle Buddy is there in Lahaina and he’s actually missing,” said Mama D, owner of Roots Café. She would later find out her uncle, Buddy Jantoc, had died from smoke inhalation, according to her family.
Others, like Miki Manivog, also had their fears confirmed.
“We recently found out my Hanai, which means adoptive grandma, passed away in the fire when they were evacuating,” said Manivog. She added her family is still searching for a missing loved one, like countless other Islanders.
Born and raised in Maui, Manivog and Raquel Nakamoto are now partnering with local Hawaiians like Mama D to provide a donation drop-off location through their fundraiser– Colorado to Maui. Funds will go toward Maui Mutual Aid, Maui United Way and the Maui Strong Fund, while donated resources go directly to Maui locals.
“We’re requesting a lot of essential items like baby diapers, formula, underwear, even adult diapers… We’re hearing every day that there’s different things that are needed like generators, ham radios, walkie talkies,” explained Manivog.
Additional necessities in high demand include medicine, pet supplies and water, which can be dropped off at Roots Café, located on East Colorado Avenue in Downtown Colorado Springs.
“We’re a small restaurant, but you know, I feel that we’re kind of mighty,” said Mama D. “Continue to give what you can. Even if it’s a little, it’s a lot to them.”
A Go Fund Me page was also set up to help with costs shipping items in bulk. Organizers of Colorado to Maui will ship out a load later in the week but are asking for a bit more financial help while they continue to pay out of pocket for their first shipment.
“Our islands are so limited on resources right now. The devastation is so bad that it’s going to be a long haul,” said Nakamoto. “They’re going to need supplies months from now.”