More than a month after Samoa felt the devastating effects of Cyclone Evan, residents and businesses across Hawaii have sent their aloha to help those in need. The Lighthouse Outreach Center in Waipahu started collecting donations today in order to fill containers of much needed supplies that will be sent to storm victims.
Gus Hannemann is the chairman of Help Samoa Now and was asked by the Governor of American Samoa, Lolo Moliga, to spearhead a committee in Hawaii to assist families in need.
"It's amazing. Today is the official opening of our efforts." Hannemann said. "We got three containers ready to go, so in addition to that, we also opened up an account at First Hawaiian Bank under Help Save Samoa Now. And all you have to do is go to First Hawaiian Bank and put in your donation."
Hannemann is reaching out to friends, families, religious groups, and businesses across Hawaii to assist in this "labor of love" reflected in any form of generosity whether it be money, food, clothing, or any other items that would assist victims of Samoa to quickly recover from devastation. However, one of the most needed items for the relief effort are tin roofs for resident's homes in Samoa.
"But what is needed the most and I've talked to the Prime Minister myself, they need tin roofs." Hannemann explained. "And I've talked to companies over here in Hawaii, and it's hard to get tin roofs here and it's expensive. So what we're doing is we're asking people to donate money, and from that money we're sending it to American Samoa where they manufacture tin roofs, and then they ship it over to the other Samoa for assistance."
Matson Navigation Company is also providing free transportation of the donated items from Hawaii to Samoa. The first three shipping containers will be sent out Thursday where they will arrive on the mainland and from there, be shipped to American Samoa.
Hotels across Hawaii have donated sheets, towels, as well as pillow cases, and Lighthouse Outreach Center is also donating Meals Ready to Eat (MRE) to families in need. In addition, the names of all donors will be sent and published to Samoa, so donors are encouraged to send all deposit slips with their names to the American Samoa Government Office.
"If everybody gives something, the many the hands the lighter the load." Hannemann said. "Give your donation with your name and we'll make sure it's published in Samoa so your family knows that although you're in Hawaii, and enjoying the good life in Hawaii, and enjoying the Aloha Spirit, that you're giving in time of need to aid the better efforts and restore back to normalcy."
Monetary donations should be made payable to: Save Samoa Now and deposits can be made at any branch of First Hawaiian Bank. The drop-off site for all donations is located at the Lighthouse Outreach center at 94-230 Leokane Street in Waipahu. For questions or inquires about Help Samoa Now, call Lighthouse Outreach office at (808) 947-1998