Locally based companies and organizations across Orange County are participating in efforts to support and send aid to the island of Maui, following the wildfires that decimated the coastal town of Lahaina.
OC-based hospitality firms and other businesses with operations on various parts of the Hawaiian island moved to provide resources and funds to the community and employees affected by the disaster.
Sunstone Hotel Investors Inc. (NYSE: SHO) is one of several local hospitality firms that are working to ensure their properties in Maui remain operational, while simultaneously ensuring relief funds are in place to assist any associates immediately in need.
The Aliso Viejo-based real estate investment trust reported that its island property, the Wailea Beach Resort, did not sustain any fire damage and remains open. The property is located over 20 miles from Lahaina. However, the company is keeping the impacted employees top of mind, with approximately 500 employed by Sunstone at Wailea.
“We are working closely with the resort’s leadership team to provide aid to any of the resort associates in need and to the community in general,” Chief Executive Bryan Giglia told the Business Journal via email.
Sunstone has also partnered with World Central Kitchen to help distribute food by volunteering the 547-room resort’s kitchen facilities and chefs to prepare and package homemade meals and snacks.
As part of the Marriott portfolio, the Wailea property’s employees also have access to Marriott’s TakeCare Relief Fund for financial support.
Irvine-based Montage International last week established the Hearts of Montage Kapalua Bay Associate Emergency Relief Fund to provide financial assistance for living and medical expenses for the workforce of the Montage Kapalua Bay resort, which is about 9 miles north of Lahaina.
Outrigger Hotels and Resorts, owned by Irvine-based KSL Resorts, is offering hotel rooms to employees and their families caught in the aftermath.
KSL’s portfolio includes nine Outrigger properties in Hawaii, including one that was based in Lahaina and acquired earlier this year.
“We are heartbroken to share that reports indicate The Plantation Inn has been irreparably damaged as a result of the devastating wildfires,” the company said last week. “This charming 18-room bed and breakfast was a beloved retreat for the last 35 years.”
The company is also taking part in the Hawaiʻi Fire Relief Housing Program by setting aside a block of rooms to help with temporary housing for any displaced employees, community members and relief workers.
OC businesses lost more than property during the fires.
The country’s largest security services firm, Irvine-based Allied Universal, reported the loss of a security employee in Lahaina with two more team members unaccounted for. The search has become a top priority, according to officials.
“Like people around the world, I watched in shock as the deadliest wildfire in modern U.S. history devastated Maui last week,” Allied CEO Steve Jones said on Aug. 14. “I worried about the safety of our valued team members, our customers and the community.
“My worries were realized.”
As of last week, the death toll from the fires had surpassed 100, reports indicate.
Allied is offering resources to its Hawaii-based team, opening its Maui office as a shelter to at least 17 workers who lost their cars and homes or were unable to return to the devastated area.
“We are working to get much-needed supplies, grief counseling and additional support to our team members and others,” Jones said.
“We continue serving our clients on Maui where it is safe to do so, including Kahului Airport.”
Allied counts about 200 employees serving 29 different clients on the island and around half of them are based at the airport.
Employees from Allied offices around the world also launched a GoFundMe last week for their fellow workers in need. As of last Friday, the fundraiser is over a third of the way to its $150,000 goal.
Allied officials said that additional efforts are on the way as “the plan will continue to evolve as needs arise.”
Maui Strong Fund
One of the top nonprofit foundations collecting financial resources for immediate response in Lahaina includes the Hawai’i Community Foundation’s Maui Strong Fund.
Local retailers such as Huntington Beach-based Boardriders and Costa Mesa’s Vans are making donations to the Hawaii foundation while also contributing directly to their Maui-based networks.
The Boardriders team set up a GoFundMe to assist 14 retail employees who lost their homes to the fires. The company set the fundraising goal to $50,000 and added $5,000 to start off. As of last week, over $28,000 was raised.
Boardriders has also donated $25,000 to the Maui Strong Fund and organized an internal donation drive to help bring essentials to the island in the coming week.
“We are committed to showing our solidarity,” officials said.
The VF Foundation of Vans parent company VF Corp. (NYSE: VFC) aims to match every dollar Vans consumers donate to the fund, with the possibility of doubling donations up to $25,000.
Apparel companies were quick to set up company products for donating proceeds as well.
Surf and western-style retailer Seager put up Maui-inspired outerwear and gear online to help raise funds. The San Clemente-based firm reported over 600 of its $35 relief-dedicated hats were sold with 100% of the proceeds donated to the Maui Strong Fund last week.
Laguna Beach-based artist Wyland, who is known for painting 100 murals featuring whales and oceanic views worldwide, originally set a goal to raise $10,000 through the Wyland Foundation for the nonprofit Maui United Way.
This included creating a Wyland-inspired T-shirt priced at $25 with all proceeds to benefit the Maui organization.
Since launching the shirt on Aug. 12, over 1,000 have been sold; the foundation will start by sending about $14,000 to the nonprofit, and is looking to add a business partner that could match the donation.
The artist’s gallery that was located on Lahaina’s historic Front Street for 40 years was among the many businesses lost to the fires. Wyland said he will auction off any art pieces that were salvaged from the shop to further support the local efforts.
“The bottom line is we’re doing as much as we can from here and asking people to help out in any way they can,” Wyland Foundation officials said.
Maui Strong Fund, by the Hawai’i Community Foundation: https://www.hawaiicommunityfoundation.org/maui-strong
World Central Kitchen: https://wck.org/
Maui United Way: https://mauiunitedway.org/disasterrelief
Allied Universal Maui Team Members GoFundMe: https://www.gofundme.com/f/fire-relief-allied-universal-team-members-maui
Boardriders Employees GoFundMe: https://gofund.me/2cca0705
Hearts of Montage Kapalua Bay Associate Emergency Relief Fund: https://www.montageinternational.com/kapalua-bay-relief-fund/