Locals raise funds for Katrina victims

Owners of Island Hardware (an Ace-affiliated hardware store) are donating 3 percent of all sales at the Princeville Shopping Center store now through Friday, Sept. 30, to assist victims of Hurricane Katrina.

“Let us never forget,” store owners said.

Leaders in the state Legislature are encouraging state Senate and House members and their staffs to consider making monetary donations for hurricane victims.

State Rep. Ezra Kanoho, D-Lihu‘e-Koloa, says he’ll do just that. “We definitely should think about doing that. I definitely will” make a donation, and encourage members of his staff to do the same, he said from his Lihu‘e home yesterday.

Senate President Robert Bunda and House Speaker Calvin Say on Friday urged all Senate and House members and their staffs to consider making monetary donations for hurricane victims.

The state House of Representatives clerk, Patricia A. “Pat” Mau-Shimizu, was able to communicate via e-mail with the clerk of the Louisiana House of Representatives and Louisiana state Senate president’s office, and conveyed the personal concerns of Hawai‘i’s elected state lawmakers, and offered assistance.

A senior staff member of the Louisiana Senate president’s office called Mau-Shimizu to confirm news reports, but commented that public health and safety conditions are actually worse than what is being reported.

Georgette Deemer, a spokesperson for the Hawai‘i state Legislature, said lawmakers responded instantly, donating $850 on the first day Bunda and Say made their joint appeal.

“Like all of you, we have been watching the media news stories and updates on the devastating effects, and the relief and rescue efforts being undertaken in Louisiana and Mississippi,” Bunda and Say wrote in their joint statement.

“The loss of life, catastrophic property damage, and the reports of human suffering, are overwhelming,” they said.

While donations of food, clothing and medical supplies are needed, those are discouraged at this time due to the difficulties associated with sorting, storage, shipping and distribution, the Hawai‘i lawmakers said.

A donation box to receive checks payable to The Salvation Army — Katrina Relief has been set up in the Mau-Shimizu’s office in Honolulu.

Members of the state Legislature have been assured that 100 percent of the collected funds will be used for the immediate needs of the Katrina victims.

“As we watch the national news, we are reminded that we are indeed truly fortunate to live in Hawai‘i,” Bunda and Say wrote.

“Let’s share our good fortune and aloha spirit with our Southern brothers and sisters.”

Back on Kaua‘i, Kaua‘i Fire Department leaders have been asking firefighters if they would be willing to travel to Louisiana to help with relief efforts, but it has been a hard sell.

They are asking for a one-month commitment, and telling firefighters they don’t know if they’ll have housing or transportation upon their arrival, so will need to pack and travel lightly, with just a sleeping bag and one carryon bag.

Leaders at Foodland, which has Kaua‘i locations at Waipouli Town Center and Princeville Shopping Center, launched a Hurricane Katrina Relief Fund, yesterday, Saturday, Sept. 3, where donations may be made at checkout stands as part of the annual Give Aloha, Foodland’s Annual Community Matching Gifts program.

Now through Friday, Sept. 30, leaders at Foodland Super Market, Ltd., and Western Union Foundation, will match a portion of each shopper’s donation, a Foodland spokesperson said.

“We are deeply saddened by our country’s recent tragedy,” said Jenai S. Wall, Foodland chairman and chief executive officer.

“Like many of our customers, we want to do what we can for the victims and their families. Through Give Aloha, we hope to provide an easy way for the community to show their concern for all those affected by the hurricane through their support of the Hurricane Katrina Relief Fund,” said Wall.

Now through the end of the month, Foodland shoppers may make donations of up to $249 to the Hurricane Katrina Relief Fund, code 78341, by using their Maika‘i Card at either Foodland location on Kaua‘i, she explained.

The donation amount will be added to the customer’s grocery-purchase total.

The amount donated and the words “Hurricane Relief” will appear on the customer’s receipt.

Officials at Foodland and the Western Union Foundation will match a portion of each donation as part of the Give Aloha program, Wall continued.

All of the customer donations plus the matched money from Foodland and Western Union Foundation officials will be given to the American Red Cross Hurricane Relief Fund.

Give Aloha, Foodland’s Annual Community Matching Gifts Program, began in 1999 as a way to honor Foodland’s founder, the late Maurice J. “Sully” Sullivan, who believed deeply in the joy of giving, and who encouraged the spirit of giving in others, said Wall, his daughter.

While the state Legislature, Foodland and several other legitimate fund-raising initiatives are under way in Hawai‘i, there are some scams operating in the state in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina.

State Department of Commerce and Consumer Affairs leaders warned Hawai‘i residents to be wary of possible Hurricane Katrina scams, and advised residents to give only to leaders of organizations with proven track records of disaster-relief work, like The Salvation Army, American Red Cross, and United Way.

“Unfortunately, each time there is a disaster, scam artists seem to crawl out from wherever they are hiding and try to exploit caring citizens who want to help those in need,” said Stephen Lewis, head of the DCCA’s Office of Consumer Protection.

“These individuals will prey on the public’s generosity to obtain money for themselves by falsely claiming that funds collected will assist victims of the hurricane,” Lewis said.

To avoid con artists, Lewis advised that residents not give money to people they are not familiar with, do not respond to online or e-mail solicitations, and be on the lookout for professional telemarketers, whose firm leaders keep most of the money they raise.

Those interested in donating, online or otherwise, should go directly to the Web site of reputable organizations, or call the organizations, he added.

“This is definitely a time for all of us to help the victims of this disaster, but be careful when giving,” said Mark Recktenwald, DCCA director.

“Take the time to make sure that your donation goes to help the victims of Hurricane Katrina, and not the scam artists,” Recktenwald said.

  • Paul C. Curtis, associate editor, may be reached at 245-3681 (ext. 224) or pcurtis@ kauaipubco.com.

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