Salvation Army Serving as Primary Feeding Organization Following Maui Fire

Aug 24, 2023

from Caring Magazine

In the 11 days after wildfires devastated the Hawaiian island of Maui, The Salvation Army prepared and served 20,565 meals and coordinated a total of 92,007 meals through local and nonprofit partnerships as the primary feeding organization for the immediate relief phase of the emergency disaster response.

Each day, The Salvation Army is coordinating and providing 13,000 meals to survivors in shelters, first responders and many of the more than 11,000 displaced residents from 47 feeding locations, including points of distribution.

“We did what we are called for and expected to do. We showed up. We immediately responded in the mass care mode by figuring out feeding, working with partners, staying in our expected function and doing it with all our might,” said Major Troy Trimmer, Divisional Commander of The Salvation Army Hawaiian and Pacific Islands. “The reality of this disaster will take a long time to set in. Maui is a beautiful place that reflects the creativity and care of God the creator…The fires leave an indelible mark on the heart of anyone who holds the island dear. And yet, there is a resilience and a hope that is beyond the hurt and the devastation.”

You can help The Salvation Army provide disaster relief for those impacted by the Hawaii wildfire online or
by texting HAWAIIFIRE to 51555 to donate now.

The wildfire, the country’s deadliest in over a century, has claimed the lives of 115 people as of Aug. 22 with more than a thousand still missing as the search effort continues. While fanned by high winds in part from Hurricane Dora and fueled by drought conditions on the island, the official cause of the wildfires is still under investigation.

The historic town of Lahaina in West Maui, a popular tourist destination and commercial hub, was hit especially hard by the fires. Aerial video footage and satellite images show a nearly leveled community, home to just over 9,000 people.

Salvation Army serving as primary feeding organization following Maui fire Courtesy The Salvation Army Hawaiian and Pacific Islands Division.

The Salvation Army’s Hawaiian and Pacific Islands Division confirmed the loss of the entire Lahaina Lighthouse Corps complex including the administrative building, church, thrift store and residential quarters. All staff safely evacuated.

“In time, we will rebuild our buildings, but right now our main focus remains serving those on Maui by not only coordinating and providing meals, but also providing emotional and spiritual care,” Trimmer said. “That expression of hope, maybe even joy, resonated the moment I laid my eyes on Envoy Kevin Nagasaki, the Corps Officer of the Lahaina Corps, who in the very early hours after fleeing Lahaina with his family and team, was serving the Ohana of Maui with a smile on his face and a resolve in his heart.”

In addition to providing daily meals and emotional and spiritual care, The Salvation Army will also provide wrap-around services for those who lost their homes and are in temporary housing, including food boxes, kitchen items and mini-appliances, hygiene kits, infant kits, and connection to further resources.

“During emergencies, the best way the public can help is to provide monetary donations which allows the delivery of the exact relief supplies a community needs,” said Victor Leonardi, Divisional Director of Emergency Services and Safety for The Salvation Army Hawaiian and Pacific Islands Division. He also serves as chair of Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster (VOAD) in Hawaii, and is working closely with Maui Mayor Richard Bissen’s office through the Maui Emergency Management agency. He’s coordinating at the state level under Governor Josh Green’s office, as well as through FEMA directly with Administrator Bob Fenton and is playing a lead role in discussions about the next phase of recovery.

The Salvation Army uses 100 percent of all donations designated “disaster relief” in support of disaster operations.

You can help The Salvation Army provide disaster relief for those impacted by the Hawaii wildfire online or
by texting HAWAIIFIRE to 51555 to donate now.


“When a devastating event like this happens, I’m always in awe of the generosity and solidarity that we see from the corporations we work with, and this has been no different,” said Maria Todaro, The Salvation Army’s Western Territorial Director of Corporate Engagement. “From PepsiCo and Kaiser Permanente each pledging $100,000 almost immediately, to AT&T setting up our Text 2 Give with no fees, and the countless local businesses in Hawaii who are rallying to support their neighbors by setting up register campaigns, providing critical resources, and hosting events to help us serve—the support has been incredible.”

Notably, Todaro said many of The Salvation Army’s corporate partners were also affected by the tragic fires in Maui, with employees, customers or loved ones who live on the island. “So, while many are stepping up in significant ways to support our relief efforts, we are also reaching out to see if we can help connect them to resources,” she said.

In addition, more than 100 volunteers served a total of 426 hours in the 10 days since the incident began.

“This is going to sound cliché, but people matter,” Trimmer said. “They matter to their community, they matter to The Salvation Army and they matter to God. No one should go through life alone, especially these type of events. Our ministry of presence allows people to know they are not alone.”

The government is currently working to get people out of emergency shelters and into temporary housing in local hotels. The Salvation Army is collaborating with government and local agencies to determine what role it will play in this phase of the response.

“The Salvation Army has been on Maui since the late 1800s, we showed up day one of this disaster and we will be on Maui by God’s grace and for his glory when Maui is restored. And we will keep showing up to honorably serve the community that God has placed us in,” Trimmer said. “We don’t know what the longterm recovery will look like, and what the needs will be during the duration, but we are committed to meaningfully respond and to faithfully steward the trust of our donors, neighbors and friends, investing our time and services for the restoration of the people of Maui, to the glory of God.”

Recent Stories

Related Content: Disaster ServiceEmergency Disaster ServicesLahainaPress ReleasesWildfires

Get Involved

Subscribe to receive more stories, directly in your inbox!


A gift to The Salvation Army helps someone in your community.

Give Now



Do Good in your community

Find Worship

Join us throughout the week for worship, fellowship, Bible study, meals, community service and fun.