The duo started the People’s Fund of Maui This week, they jointly announced on Instagram that they will be “putting money directly into the pockets of those affected by the recent wildfires.” They started with a $10 million donation.
“As we’ve seen firsthand, the impact of these wildfires has been devastating, and we’re here to make sure your donations go directly into the hands of Lahaina residents, with a 100 percent guarantee.” The social media post explains.
“Each adult resident living in the affected area who has been displaced by the Lahaina and Kula wildfires is eligible for $1,200 per month to support them through this recovery period,” it said. “All you have to do is apply to PeoplesFundofMaui.org.”
The fires allegedly The blaze started after midnight on August 8 and was fueled by strong winds that reportedly drove the flames further. Up to 1,100 people are still missing in Lahaina, a city of 13,000 people where a search for survivors and human remains continues.
“As people around the world witnessed the catastrophic loss and devastation caused by the Maui wildfires, they also witnessed the great spirit and resilience of our Polynesian culture and the tremendous strength of the Maui people.” Johnson said in a press release, per People.
Johnson spent part of his childhood in Hawaii and earlier this month urged the people of Maui to “stay together.” Winfrey, whose own home near Lahaina was spared the inferno, was apparently inspired by donations from Dolly Parton to provide assistance.
“The most important thing I’ve heard is their concern about how to move forward given the immense financial burden … I read this article where Dolly Parton gave money to her community and I said, ‘I think that is the answer’.” Winfrey said in Thursday’s press release.
Maui County last week sued the Hawaiian Electric Company for alleged negligence and failure to shut down power despite dangerously dry conditions and high winds before the fires. According to the company’s websiteit serves “95 percent of Hawaii’s 1.4 million residents.”
“Maui County stands with the people and communities of Lāhainā and Kula to offset the damage to public resources and to rebuild from these devastating utility-inflicted fires.” The county reassured its residents in an Aug. 24 announcement of the lawsuit.
President Joe Biden recently traveled to Hawaii and pledged to help Maui rebuild and recover “for as long as it takes.” Several locals and Republicans in the House of Representatives criticized the president for his slow response and continued focus on the Ukraine war.
Meanwhile, in Thursday’s press release, Johnson thanked everyone for their help, prayers and resources. He commended the “esteemed community leaders” for “offering their leadership” to the People’s Fund and reminded locals of their story:
“Even in the most difficult of times, the people of Maui come together and we rise – it makes us stronger.”