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Maui church seeks donations as Tonga still grapples with eruption devastation, COVID

It's been more than three months since a massive eruption and tsunami devastated the kingdom of Tonga.
Published: Apr. 27, 2022 at 6:09 PM HST|Updated: Apr. 28, 2022 at 4:02 AM HST
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KIHEI (HawaiiNewsNow) - It’s been more than three months since a massive eruption and tsunami devastated Tonga, and families there are still suffering from both the damage and now COVID-19.

One church on Maui is sending much-needed help.

“Our choir members all met up in the evening and just started building boxes,” said Katalina Tolutau.

The Tongan Choir at St. Theresa’s Church in Kihei spent their evenings last week building 11 wooden crates.

Their hope is to have them all full by this weekend so they can ship it out to their loved ones in Tonga.

“We’re just taking whatever donations. If you have something, drop it off,” Tolutau said.

“We’re gonna help each of the families for the choir members. And there’s four different villages that we found out that really needs help. Those are the ones that really were badly damaged during the tsunami.”

A massive underwater volcanic eruption trigged a tsunami and devastated the island nation back in January.

Tolutau originally started planning this donation drive back then, but she said donations came to a halt and the country went on lockdown when it experienced its first COVID outbreak.

On Tuesday, the country reported more than 1,000 active cases and 11 deaths.

Tolutau said Tonga is now accepting donations again.

“Now we’ve got the clearance from Tonga,” she said. “The tsunami, it didn’t just effect just a village, if effected the whole Kingdom … the whole Kingdom needs help.”

Tolutau’s sister, nieces, nephews, and extended family members live in Tonga.

She said the islanders need all the help they can get.

“Whatever you guys can help with. I know everybody’s struggling,” Tolutau said. “Help your family first and then if you have something that you can help us with, donate, anything.”

Donations are being accepted at the St. Theresa’s Church parking lot this Saturday from 8 a.m. until noon.

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