The wildfires that have engulfed the Hawaiian island of Maui is the latest natural disaster to tug at the nation’s heartstrings. Not only have there been dozens of deaths, many people have lost everything.
You can be sure that scammers have already jumped into the game, hoping to benefit from Americans’ goodwill. So ConsumerAffairs did a deep dive into the local and legitimate organizations that you can support and help make a difference.
Maui Strong Fund
The Hawaii Community Foundation operates the Maui Strong Fund and it is backed by the Hawaii Governor’s Office. You can be sure your financial donation will go where it is needed.
Follow this link to the Maui Strong Fund website where you can easily make a donation.
Salvation Army - Hawaiian and Pacific Islands Division
The Salvation Army is often the first with boots on the ground when disaster strikes. Its Kahului Corps has already provided thousands of meals to affected residents of Maui County and at emergency shelters.
The Salvation Army has set up this website where you can make a donation to help the organization help others.
Maui Mutual Aid Fund
The Maui Mutual Aid Fund was quickly organized by a group of Maui volunteers who are providing help in other ways than financially. For example, their focus is on families, the elderly and disabled and people with no insurance.
Its Instagram page shows volunteers the different ways they can support the relief effort.
Maui Food Bank
Like the Salvation Army, the Maui Food Bank is meeting the basic need of keeping victims fed. Because of inflation, food banks around the nation have struggled under normal conditions to keep their shelves stocked.
The Maui Food Bank needs a quick cash infusion of have enough food on hand to meeting the suddenly increased demand. You can make an online donation here.
The best way to avoid charity scams associated with the Maui fires is to support one of the four organizations above. However, should you consider making additional contributions, be extremely leery of a “charity” that contacts you.
In particular, avoid a telemarketer who pressures you to make a donation on the spot, or who can only accept contributions using gift cards or cryptocurrency.
If a telemarketer tugs at your heartstrings but won’t give you any specifics about how the money will be used, you can be assured it’s a scam.