Our Islands, Our Future

When Korlleen Puou learned of the havoc Typhoon Haiyan caused in the Philippines, she was compelled to help. “I just have a passion for people with any losses,” the West Maui resident said. “I have to help.” Management at Lahaina Ace Hardware where Puou works supported her and together initiated Blankets of Aloha, a campaign at HouseMart Ace Hardwares and Ben Franklin Crafts to get blankets and sleeping bags to people recovering from the typhoon devastation. The first shipment of donations was scheduled to ship out on November 30. Collections will continue through June 2014.

Meanwhile Panda Express on Maui and throughout the state is matching all monetary donations made at its restaurants for the typhoon recovery. Contributions will then be sent to the American Red Cross. Michele Liberty, the Maui County Director of Red Cross, said local chapters are accepting cash and credit card contributions to forward to the Philippines Red Cross. “Everybody wants to help,” she said. Red Cross prefers to help typhoon victims by “putting money in their hands so they can take charge of their own recovery.” Liberty said it’s often difficult to ship and ensure that Philippine residents are receiving donated shipments of goods. Groups and businesses that want to help can visit: Donations can be made online.

Puou said she’s touched by the outpouring of support for Blankets of Aloha. Many customers at Ace Hardware learn about it while shopping. “They’ll make a donation and then come up to me and thank me for doing this. It’s very humbling to hear from people I’ve never met,” Puou said. “Everybody’s struggling, yet people want to reach out and help.” Typhoon Haiyan devastated portions of Southeast Asia, particularly the Philippines, on November 2, 2013. The storm has been labeled the deadliest Philippine typhoon on record. At least 5,500 people have been killed from the devastation and thousands more have lost their homes.