December 3, 2023

Travel Hawaii

It's Your Travel Hawaii

Oprah, Jason Momoa, and Other Celebrities Help Hawaii Relief Efforts

Wildfires have decimated Maui, Hawaii, with the deadly natural disaster claiming 55 lives so far. In response, prominent celebrities associated with Hawaii—like Oprah Winfrey, a part-time resident of Maui, and Jason Momoa, a native of Honolulu—are stepping up to help relief efforts.

Oprah was spotted at an evacuation center, the War Memorial Stadium in Maui, helping hand out supplies. “It’s a little overwhelming, you know,” she told the BBC. “But I’m really so pleased to have so many people, you know, supporting, and people are just bringing what they can and doing what they can.”

She added, “So I came earlier, just to see what people needed, and then went shopping because often you make donations of clothes or whatever, and it’s not really what people need. So I actually went to Walmart and Costco and got pillows, shampoo, diapers, sheets, pillowcases.”

Momoa has taken to his social media accounts to amplify resources and places to donate. “My heart goes out to all those affected by the devastating fires across the Island of Maui. In times like these, we come together as an ‘Ohana, a family, to kāko’o and kōkua one another,” he said in a statement. “The destruction caused by these fires is heartbreaking, but our community’s resilience and strength will shine through.”

He continued, “I urge everyone to stay safe and heed the advice of local authorities. Let us all do our part to prevent the further spread of the fires and support those on the front lines, working tirelessly to protect our homes and natural treasures.”

On Instagram, Momoa reposted the nonprofit ‘Āina Momona, which is raising money for the Hawaii Community Foundation Maui County Strong Fund “We are devastated and heartbroken for our friends and ‘ohana on Maui who been impacted by the recent wildfires,” he wrote in the caption. “Link in our bio to organizations that are helping.”

He also reposted Protect Mauna a Wākea’s Instagram, which read in part, “We want to mahalo everyone near and far for all their love and support. We appreciate everyone’s outpouring of love, generosity, volunteering, every thing. It doesn’t go unnoticed.”

Additionally, Momoa emphasized that people should not be traveling to Hawaii right now. “Maui is not the place to have your vacation right now,” he wrote on Instagram. “DO NOT TRAVEL TO MAUI. Do not convince yourself that your presence is needed on an island that is suffering this deeply. Mahalo to everyone who has donated and shown aloha to the community in this time of need.”

Hawaiian actress Auli’i Cravalho shared a similar sentiment, writing, “On a personal note I feel numb and close to tears every time I talk about this. Of all the natural disasters we have faced; earthquakes, hurricanes, tsunamis and flooding… to say we were under-prepared for this disaster is an understatement. DO NOT TRAVEL TO HAWAIʻI UNLESS YOU ARE RENDERING AID. This has been declared a FEDERAL DISASTER. Your vacation can wait. My heart and funds and donations are headed your way Hawaiʻi, even if I physically am not.”

Former president Barack Obama, who was born in Hawaii, shared a link to the Maui Strong Fund on Twitter, writing, “It’s tough to see some of the images coming out of Hawai’i — a place that’s so special to so many of us. Michelle and I are thinking of everyone who has lost a loved one, or whose life has been turned upside down.”

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Vanessa Lachey, who stars in NCIS Hawai’i, also posted on her Instagram stories, writing, “Whether you’re on the island looking for help or watching from elsewhere and want to help, I’ve gathered some resources from locals and will post the links on the next few stories.” Her husband, Nick Lachey, wrote, “Thoughts and prayers go out to all affected on Maui as they battle these incredibly destructive wildfires. While the resilience of the Hawaiian people is legendary, this tragedy will take time and resources to rebuild from. I’ve put a link in my bio, please help if you can.”

If you’d like to support relief efforts, you can donate to The Maui Strong Fund, put together by Hawai’i Community Foundation.

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Emily Burack (she/her) is the news writer for Town & Country, where she covers entertainment, culture, the royals, and a range of other subjects. Before joining T&C, she was the deputy managing editor at Hey Alma, a Jewish culture site. Follow her @emburack on Twitter and Instagram