In early August, an especially dry summer and high winds from Hurricane Dora to the south contributed to one of the worst natural disasters that the people of Hawaii have ever experienced. A deadly wildfire on Maui spread with astonishing speed, engulfing the historic harbor town of Lahaina with little warning. Over 111 deaths have been confirmed, and 1,300 souls are still missing.
Our hearts, prayers and thoughts go out to those who have been affected by this devastating fire. We mourn for all who are suffering in Maui, and we are committed to supporting the relief efforts as the island of Maui heals.
Watch a video story about Melaleuca’s disaster response to help the people of Maui. This story was broadcast by KIFI-TV (ABC) on Aug. 22, 2023.
Melaleuca’s First Wave of Action
Without wasting a minute, Melaleuca Executive Chairman Frank VanderSloot, CEO Jerry Felton and President Cole Clinger sprang into action, making a series of decisions that created Melaleuca’s multi-pronged approach to this relief effort. So far, Melaleuca and Frank VanderSloot have donated more than $135,000 in cash, food and relief supplies, and they have plans to donate hundreds of thousands of dollars more over the coming days to Maui’s recovery.
Because of their urgency, Melaleuca was one of the very first companies to arrive on Maui with assistance. Within 24 hours, Melaleuca donated more than $25,000 in personal hygiene kits and healthy snack foods to those running temporary shelters.
To accomplish this so quickly, Melaleuca chartered a private cargo plane to fly from Melaleuca’s Oahu warehouse to the Maui airport.
“In the midst of turmoil, Melaleuca came to our rescue by delivering food and grooming products for those staying in our emergency shelters,” said Paul McDonald, who led a shelter in Kahului housing hundreds of people. “Both the speed and quality of Melaleuca’s donation were a breath of fresh air, offering hope and a reminder that we’re not alone. We appreciate their compassion to our crisis.”
A few days later, the American Red Cross specifically called to ask Melaleuca for healthy snack bars as their Maui warehouse inventory was running low. We were happy to air ship 6,500 Simply Fit, Attain and Proflex protein bars at the exact time and place that the Maui Red Cross needed it.
Beyond the shelters, our products were handed out to families in need who are a part of the Melaleuca family.
Anne Komatsu, a Melaleuca Marketing Executive from Honolulu, felt compelled to help as soon as she saw the dire situation. Anne flew to Maui and supported Melaleuca’s relief effort by delivering our care packages to customers around Lahaina over several days.
After receiving a shipment of donated Melaleuca products, Marketing Executives in Maui assembled and gave away care packages to families in need.
Additionally, Melaleuca bought 16 generators in Kauai and flew them to Maui. These generators were distributed to families who can remain in their homes near Lahaina but who don’t have power or water.
Some of these generators went to Melaleuca customers, while others went to community members with no affiliation to our company. In those cases, local leaders recommended individuals who have a reputation for putting others before themselves.
Melaleuca sent 16 generators to help families in need in Lahaina.
Melaleuca is also taking care of Melaleuca customers and a few community members by providing them with $1,000 in cash. The company has dedicated funds to support 40 families who lost everything in the fire, helping them to purchase essential supplies to bridge the gap until they receive additional services.
Melaleuca Director of Aloha Jeff Putman, who resides in Kauai, has made two trips to Maui so far. During his first trip, Jeff visited several shelters to assess the immediate needs of the people, and on his second trip he drove to wherever families were staying to personally distribute Melaleuca products and these cash envelopes.
“Our Melaleuca customers are incredibly grateful to receive emergency funds,” Putnam said. “Several expressed tears of joy. None of them expected this kind of gift, so they were overcome by the generosity of the Melaleuca family. While visiting with them, I noticed that several families, despite having lost everything, were in the process of serving their neighbors. Their compassion truly embodies the spirit of the Hawaiian people.”
Melaleuca Director of Aloha Jeff Putnam gives an envelope with $1,000 to a family who lost everything in the devastating Maui wildfire.
Feeding Those Who Lost Everything in Maui Wildfires
To feed the people after the wildfires in Maui destroyed the historic town of Lahaina, Frank donated 5,000 pounds of beef from the meat processing plant that he owns in Oahu. And he’s committed an additional 15,000 pounds of beef to help those in need. Frank’s personal donation will exceed $240,000.
His company, Hawaii Sustainable Beef, is working extensively with Chef Hui, a collaborative of chefs, farmers and co-producers from across Hawaii, as well as Maui Rapid Response, a group of nonprofit and government agencies that come together during natural disasters. Since the horrific disaster, a volunteer army has prepared tens of thousands of meals for families in need.
Frank’s first critical donation is now being shipped on a large barge from Oahu to Maui. After it is cooked by dozens of local chefs and volunteers at the University of Hawaii Maui College Culinary Arts facility, it will nourish the people of Maui through distribution in a network of food trucks, soup kitchens and American Red Cross/Salvation Army shelters.
Frank’s first donation is estimated to provide enough protein to feed thousands of people for an entire week.
And his second shipment of beef should be sufficient to feed the community for several weeks!
A Second Wave of Relief Is Coming
Melaleuca set up a hotline for Melaleuca customers to donate to Maui relief several days ago. At the time of this post on August 18, 2023, Melaleuca customers have donated $43,390 to this specific fund within the Melaleuca Foundation. Melaleuca, Inc. has pledged to double their total donations, bringing the total donations to $86,780.
There are no administrative charges, so 100 percent of all donations to this particular fund will go to helping the people of Maui.
As relief efforts continue across the island, Melaleuca will continue to do what it can to help the good people of Maui recover from this tragedy. Donations from the hotline will continue to increase, and more supplies will be distributed. In the meantime, Melaleuca will continue to do good where good is needed!