UVU Pacific Islander Initiative collect donations for Maui victims

Aug 10, 2023, 10:23 PM | Updated: Aug 11, 2023, 5:47 am

OREM, Utah — A Utah Valley University group is collecting a list of household and personal items to send over to Maui, helping those who lost everything start over from scratch.

They’re hoping community members will stop by over the next few days with donations, which will be flown out next week.

On Thursday evening, Hula Kalua-Santiago listed off the basic necessities and comforts of home to a woman outside the Fulton Library on campus. The woman wanted to know what to bring to the booth set up outside.

“Blankets, pillows, clothes,” Kalua-Santiago said. Next to her, another woman wrote “MAUI FIRES” in marker on a poster board, which she hung up near the booth. The two are in the UVU Pacific Islander Initiative and quickly organized the list together for a donation drive.

Kalua-Santiago’s phone rang, and she took a call. She again cited off the list to someone, who wanted to know what to bring.

“Duffel bags, backpacks, because the people don’t have anything to put their stuff in,” she explained.

Kalua-Santiago and other members of the UVU Pacific Islander Initiative from Maui have been watching their friends and family lose the people they love, their homes, and their communities in the devastating fires that ripped through towns like Lahaina.

“I saw a video of Lahaina Harbor on fire and people in the water, and that was scary and intense for me,” Kalua-Santiago said.

Watching on her phone from afar, Kalua-Santiago has been seeing her friends and family on her home island suffer.

“It’s the worst. It’s the worst feeling I can imagine,” Kalua-Santiago expressed, stopping as she got choked up. She began to wipe away tears. “Not being able to find my family, and then not being able to do anything. I can’t go look for somebody. I can’t help a Kupuna [elder] off the bus. I can’t give them the clothes off of my back. I can’t bring them food so far away.”

That’s why Kalua-Santiago and the UVU Pacific Islander Initiative are collecting donations and tangible items to send to Maui.

“The next best thing we can do is really rally together and bring our resources together to help as best as we can. And that’s what we’re doing here,” Kalua-Santiago said.

Here are the items they’re looking for:

  • Non-perishable foods and canned goods
  • Linens
  • Pillows
  • Towels
  • Toiletries
  • Baby necessities
  • Formula
  • Diapers
  • Clothes for ALL ages and sizes

The group will be posted outside the UVU Fulton Library Friday through Monday from morning until evening. The shipment will be loaded onto a United Airlines flight on Tuesday headed for Maui.

Thursday evening, a woman pulled up in a car and began to grab out plastic bags.

“Hi! Welcome,” Kalua-Santiago enthusiastically said, greeting the woman.

The woman walked up and explained she brought clothing. As she did that, the woman who came earlier to ask what items they needed returned with a few bags filled with items.

“There’s kiddie blankets in there,” she told Kalua-Santiago. “That’s perfect. There’s a lot of kids,” Kalua-Santiago replied.

She may not be home to help family in person, but Kalua-Santiago can send them a piece of comfort.

“Even though we’re not home on our islands, on our land, we’re here in Utah,” she said. “We just come right together.”

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UVU Pacific Islander Initiative collect donations for Maui victims