'This is what we do'; Local union collects donations for Maui wildfire relief efforts

The number of lives lost in the Maui wildfires continues to rise.

By late Wednesday afternoon, authorities reported at least 110 people have died, and many others remain unaccounted. People across Washington are stepping up to help Maui in its long road to recovery.

The International Longshore and Warehouse (ILWU) Local Chapter 23 is collecting donations to help the people of Maui devastated by the deadly wildfires. Chapter president Jared Faker said this effort shows the chapter is putting the union’s motto into action.

"Our motto is ‘An injury to one is an injury to all.’ So, this is our way of giving back and showing that we believe in our motto," said Faker. "The ILWU has a 100-year history of giving back to our community. We represent workers, but we also represent the community at large. Whenever we see people in need in our community, in our nation, in the world, we try to jump in and help."

The local chapter on Monday started collecting donations at its headquarters in Fife. The amount of donations quickly filled up one shipping container, requiring crews to get a second container. The union is partnering with area companies to ship both containers from the Port of Tacoma.

"This is what we do. We do shipping. And so, putting goods into a shipping container, shipping it overseas—that’s what we do every single day. So this is no different than that. It’s just our way of helping," explained Faker.

Several community members have been dropping off bundles and pallets of goods, doing their part to support relief efforts on Maui.

"Oh, I think it’s so tragic that every morning you turn on the news and there’s more deaths reported," said donor Renee Denney. "You just see all those cars—just how quickly that fire must have just taken over everyone. It’s so sad. It’s just really sad."

Since the fires began, the Red Cross and Hawaii’s county governments have provided more than 4,200 overnight shelter stays in 12 emergency shelters on Maui and Oahu. Aaron Hayes, a Red Cross shelter supervisor in Washington, has responded to disaster scenes for decades. He arrived to Maui on Aug. 10.

"It’s worse than what you could imagine, what the pictures look like. This is a bad one. This is one of the worst," said Hayes. "It’s a little bit numbing. And you have to kind of put that aside to be able to do the job and the hours and everything that we’re doing."

Since his arrival, Hayes has been working at the Red Cross’ largest emergency shelter set up in Lahaina. It’s currently serving more than 250 people who no longer have a place to call home. Each emergency shelter offers access to hot meals, relief supplies, health, mental health and spiritual care services, support with finding loved ones and casework assistance.

"There are local people who still can’t get a hold of their relatives and friends in the Lahaina area because of the power being out, because the road is being blocked and not being able to get there," said Hayes.

RELATED: Maui wildfires: Death toll rises to 110 as county starts identifying victims

ILWU Chapter 23 is located at 1306 Alexander Ave in Fife. The last day of donations is Aug. 17 from 8 a.m.–5:30 p.m.

Union members will transport shipping containers to the Port of Tacoma the morning of Aug. 18 and will be sent to Maui that evening.

ILWU Chapter 23 is accepting the following donations:

  • Baby food
  • Bottled water
  • Non-perishable food
  • Canned protein/meals (Pop-top cans)
  • Diapers, wipes, feminine hygiene products
  • Toiletries (toothbrushes, body wash, soaps, etc.)
  • Basic home necessities
  • Coolers/ice chests
  • Sandals
  • Peanut butter/jelly
  • Protein and breakfast bars
  • Pillows/bedding/bed mats
  • Towels