Volunteers warm lava evacuees' hearts — by filling their stomachs

Volunteers warm lava evacuees' hearts — by filling their stomachs

HILO, HAWAII (HawaiiNewsNow) - Since eruptions in lower Puna started, the Big Island's faith community has been integral in aiding the thousands of people who have been displaced.

"It's not the time to preach. It's not the time to push church," said Katrine Konanui, program director at New Hope Church. "It's about loving on people."

An army of volunteers has sought to help, including with homecooked meals provided to comfort those in need.

"These people lost their homes. They don't get to walk up to their fridge, open it up and cook whatever they want," said Konanui. "They're just eating what other people are dropping off."

Every Thursday, for the past six weeks parishioners at New Hope have been up well before the sun to start the meals.

"We open up at 3 a.m. Start prepping at 3:30," said Konanui. "We make breakfast, lunch and dinner."

In a single day, they'll prepare, deliver and serve close to 1,000 meals for evacuees staying in both the Pahoa and Keaau shelters.

"Our volunteers they get all joyful," said Konanui. "Some people love to cook. Some people just want to do dishes."

She says the response they've gotten from evacuees has been incredible.

"They're really thankful," said Konanui.

Although it's a simple gesture, she says the meals provide a temporary escape and bind the community closer together.

"As long as it's going on, as long as there are people in the shelter that need food, we're committed to doing this," said Konanui.

If you'd like to donate food or volunteer, call New Hope Church at 808-959-7700.

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