Where and How to Volunteer on Maui: Help Maui Recover
What Happened on Maui?
On August 8th, a devastating tragedy struck our beautiful island of Maui, as a wildfire engulfed the historic town of Lahaina, reducing it to ashes. The flames, sparked by multiple fires on that day, were mercilessly fanned by strong winds and exacerbated by the arid conditions caused by a passing hurricane south of the islands. This catastrophic Maui wildfire, now described as the nation’s deadliest wildfire in a century, carved a path of destruction spanning approximately 3.5 square miles through Lahaina.
The consequences of the Lahaina wildfire have been dire, with over 5,000 residents left displaced, seeking shelter in hotels and Airbnb accommodations for the time being. The estimated capital exposed stands at a staggering $5.52 billion, with a heartbreaking 86% of the burned structures being residential. In the Upcountry region of Maui, another 678 acres succumbed to relentless flames, with a staggering 96% of the buildings being residential.
As recovery efforts continue, our island is grappling with the immense scale of this catastrophe. With more than 234,400 meals served to those affected by the Maui fires so far, the immediate focus remains on providing essential support and housing to the displaced residents who lost their homes and livelihoods. The road to recovery is long and arduous and the plans for the rebuild are only beginning.
Why Does Maui Need Tourists to Visit?
In the wake of the devastating Maui wildfires, a profound and unexpected phenomenon has taken place. Fueled by the raw emotions of our local residents, government officials and agencies, and even prominent celebrities, a powerful message emerged – a plea for visitors to not come to Maui. This outcry stemmed from genuine concern over limited island resources, a need to grieve, and the inability to see past the shock and horror of watching our beloved and historic town of Lahaina burn to the ground.
However, the unintended consequence of this heartfelt plea has caused a disastrous blow to the economy. With tourists canceling reservations en masse, businesses across the island now find themselves dealing with a near-total absence of bookings and the obligation to refund hundreds of thousands of dollars.
Maui residents across the rest of the island are now facing reduced work hours, layoffs, and closures of beloved businesses. As our community grapples with the aftermath of the Maui wildfires and the economy suddenly plummeting, the narrative has shifted quickly to welcoming Maui tourists to visit everywhere but Lahaina Town, in order to stimulate our jobs and economy. That way, our community can continue to support and help our West Maui and Kula ‘ohana recover while also being able to make ends meet in the rest of our homes
What Can Visitors Do to Help Maui Recover?
VISIT– Stimulate our economy and allow job availability so we can continue to help our own neighbors in need.
DONATE– Monetary funds are imperative for our ongoing relief efforts. There are many different options for where to donate.
VOLUNTEER– Take a few hours or a day of your vacation to help those in need.
How To Volunteer on Maui Respectfully and Intentionally?
- Do not take pictures
- Do not request interviews
- Be mindful that those you’re interacting with may have lost more than you can even comprehend
- Only come with the intention to help and not to glorify yourself
- Make it a point to learn about our island’s culture and heritage before you fully engage with those in deep suffering
- Ask for consent. If you want to share about your volunteerism in order to spread awareness of ways to help on Maui, do not snap any photos without the consent of those around you
Where Can Tourists Volunteer During their Maui Vacation?
Taking just a few hours or even a day to extend a helping hand and volunteer on Maui can make an immeasurable difference for those who find themselves displaced and starting anew in the aftermath of the Maui wildfires. The needs of these individuals and families are ever-evolving, but you can be part of the solution. From grassroots initiatives created by our caring local community to well-established agencies dedicated to providing essential needs and support to our island ‘ohana, your volunteerism or donations can bring comfort and hope.
Support one of these verified reputable organizations by volunteering on vacation:
Hungry Heroes Hawaii– Serving 3,000 meals per day, providing supplies, and restoring communities with healthy meals, supply chains, and kitchens. Volunteering right now includes preparing and delivering meals.
- Website: HHHMaui.org
- Needs are listed on the above website, fill out Volunteer Form
- Partnered with the Chef Hui – providing restaurant-quality meals for delivery
- Partnered with Hua Momona Farms – providing their produce, kitchen, and space to cook these meals
Common Ground Collective– Cooking and providing thousands of meals per day, procuring bulk food needs at the distribution hubs, and assisting local farms in salvaging their produce. CGC is seeking volunteers with Food Handlers Permits, as well as general volunteer help.
Boots on the Ground Maui- Providing free aid to those who lost homes, belongings, and loved ones, by sourcing funding solutions and organizing temporary housing space, supplies, and essential needs. Volunteer needs vary but they are open to visitors helping!
- Website: BootsOnTheGroundMaui.com
- Learn of current needs by filling out the contact form at the bottom of their homepage
Pacific Birth Collective- Connecting displaced expecting moms and families with young children with resources. If you are a birth worker or provide pre- and postnatal care, they could use your help!
- Website: PacificBirthCollective.org
- Learn of current needs by filling out: Birth Care Volunteer Form or General Volunteer Form
Living Earth Systems– A local farm and organization growing nutrient-dense food, while regenerating the land + farming future regenerative farmers. Currently building tiny homes as a temporary living solution after our displaced ‘ohana can no longer stay in hotels and Airbnbs. Various volunteer opportunities are coming up, see updated needs on their Instagram.
- Website: LivingEarthSystems.com
- Tiny homes are being built in Olowalu, they could use experienced contractors and donations to complete these self-sufficient tiny homes. Stay updated on their Instagram if they have a need you can assist with during your vacation
Maui Rapid Response– This is a combined effort between Maui Rapid Response, Maui-Mutual-Aid, Maui-Strong, and other nonprofits and direct-aid organizations. Their primary focus is coordinating and assisting those in need, but most volunteer options are for local residents to consistently help.
Hands on Maui– The County of Maui’s online volunteer hub where numerous organizations list their needs. Multiple volunteer agencies have shared where and how volunteers can help within their Maui Fire relief efforts.
- Website: HandsOnMaui.com
- Sign up and make a profile in order to respond and register for shifts or needs
Feed My Sheep- Actively working with the Maui County Emergency Operations Center to provide food where needed. As new opportunities arise to volunteer on Maui, Feed My Sheep updates their HandsOnMaui profile.
- Website: FeedMySheepMaui.com
- Sign up on HandsOnMaui.com for volunteer opportunities
Maui Humane Society– Maui’s hub for animal rescue and rehabilitation, this organization is imperative to helping aid pets hurt during the fires, and reconnecting owners with their lost pets. They could use plenty of volunteers with receiving, sorting, and distributing donations for the affected animals and families.
- Website: MauiHumaneSociety.org
- Email: email@example.com
- If you would like to drop in, come by the big rolling gate between 9am-4pm, no sign up needed.
- For more specific volunteer needs, watch the orientation video and apply to volunteer
Maui Food Bank- Providing support and food assistance to those displaced.
- Website: MauiFoodBank.org
- Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Learn of current needs by filling out: Volunteer Form
Maui United Way– A non-profit organization on Maui since 1945 connecting the right people to the right resources to address Maui’s most vital needs in deeply impacted communities. Currently providing grants to individuals displaced by the fires. As of 9/3/23, there are not many visitor volunteer options, but check back!
- Website: MauiUnitedWay.org
- Email: Makana@mauiunitedway.org
- Learn of current needs by filling out: Volunteer Form at the bottom of the page
Global Organizations Currently Assisting on Maui
World Central Kitchen- Immediately serving chef-prepared meals to communities impacted by natural disasters and during prolonged humanitarian crises.
Red Cross- Red Cross disaster teams are working 24/7 to provide those displaced by the fires with a safe place to stay, food to eat, and emotional support. Must undergo a fast background check to volunteer.
Salvation Army- Providing food, emotional and spiritual care to survivors of the Maui wildfires.
- Website: Hawaii.SalvationArmy.org
- Learn of current needs by filling out the form at the bottom of the webpage above to ask for current volunteer needs
Where is the Best Place to Donate that Will Really Help Maui?
Every organization listed above is in need of monetary donations to continue their relief efforts on Maui. Additionally, we recommend these Maui Funds that we can confirm are directly helping our West Maui and Kula ‘ohana in need.
- Maui Strong Fund through the Hawaii Community Foundation- Assisting with immediate and long-term needs such as: shipping fresh food, temporary shelter support, rental deposits, mobile medical clinics, gift cards for youth needs, transportation, grief support, power substations, internet access stations, shelter and supplies for animals, refrigerated food trucks, and the list goes on…
- Kāko‘o Maui Fund through the Council for Native Hawaiian Advancement- Aiding Maui-based relief efforts for Native Hawaiian organizations, small businesses, ‘ohana, and cultural groups. Funding will support evolving needs, including shelter, food, financial assistance, and other services as identified by their partners doing critical work on Maui. Every dollar donated will be matched!
Grants and Funds Helping with Immediate Needs:
- Maui Fire and Disaster Relief Fund through Maui United Way- Providing a one-time $1,000 grant to those directly impacted by the fires. Requirements apply to receive this fund.
- People’s Fund of Maui– Providing $1,200 per month (until funds run out) to Maui community members experiencing devastating losses from the fires. Created by Oprah and The Rock, and funded with $10 million of their own money. Requirements apply to receive this fund.
- Maui Fires Fund through Maui Economic Opportunity – Finding long-term housing for those displaced by the fires for a minimum of 6 months, fully paid for through the Maui Fires Fund.
- Kokua Restaurant & Hospitality Fund for Maui – Providing prompt support to the hard-working restaurant, bar, and hospitality professionals affected by the West Maui wildfires spanning from Lahaina to Kapalua, and supporting farmers rebuilding their farms and recouping the loss in business.
In closing, it’s crucial to emphasize that the essence of volunteering on Maui lies far beyond self-gratification or the desire for social media accolades. When choosing to volunteer on this beautiful island, the primary intention should always be rooted in giving back rather than taking. Take the time to learn about the culture and heritage of this island before you immerse yourself in the space of those suffering.
So, when you decide to volunteer on Maui, do so with a humble heart, a genuine desire to help, and an unwavering commitment to leaving the island better than you found it.
- Looking for great places to stay on Maui? You’ll save by BOOKING DIRECTLY with the owners/managers of these accommodations.
- Looking for Maui deals? Sign up here for our free monthly Maui Deals & Steals enewsletter with the latest book-direct deals from our advertisers.
Questions? Comments? Drop me a line:
(Note: We recognize and respect the significance of the ‘okina and kahakō markings in the written Hawaiian language; however, we have omitted those diacritical markings on our site in order to integrate with the more common spellings used in online searches.)
©Copyright 2015-Present Maui Accommodations Guide. If you wish to share content from our site, you may do so only by publishing a link to our original content on MauiAccommodations.com, so full and clear credit is given to us. Any other unauthorized use and/or duplication of any materials on this site (either text or photos) without our express and written permission is strictly prohibited. For permission to use excerpts or photos from our site, please contact the publisher. Mahalo!