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VA Sierra Pacific Network (VISN 21)


Girl Scout Troop Volunteers at Maui VA Clinic

Girl Scout Troop 672 began fund-raising and making concrete plans to help after the August 2023 Maui wildfires.

Girl Scout Troop 672 began fund-raising and making concrete plans to help after the August 2023 Maui wildfires.

By VA Pacific Islands Public Affairs
Wednesday, October 11, 2023

In August of 2023, devastating wildfires swept through Maui and destroyed much of the historic town of Lahaina. Many people watched the news and wished they could do something, but Girl Scout Troop 672 didn’t just wish; they began fund-raising and making concrete plans to help.

Troop leader Rebecca Adams works for the VA Pacific Islands Health Care System (VAPIHCS), so the troop decided to focus on a way to help Veterans affected by the wildfires.

“The troop is comprised of all military affiliated children,” said Troop 672 Leader and VAPIHCS Research Assistant Rebecca Adams. “Their caregivers come from different services, but they’re all connected to a branch of the military.”

Approximately 12,000 people were displaced following the wildfires. This has been devastating for Maui, where housing was scare before. With 12,000 people now looking for homes or hoping to rebuild homes they lost, housing is scarcer than it has ever been. Many people have found themselves in hotel rooms, and they may have to stay in them for the foreseeable future. As if staying somewhere with no kitchen wasn’t bad enough, these people will have to rebuild their entire lives from nothing. During all this, Troop 672 jumped in to help however they could at the Maui Community Based Outpatient Clinic (CBOC).  

“The girls spent a lot of time writing cards to Veterans,” Adams said. “The cards will go into care packages of food that the CBOC will distribute to Veterans. It will be nice for them to know that people are thinking of them when they read the cards.”

The troop also carried donations from Oahu to Maui. This proved to be a challenging endeavor since the donations were stored in boxes that were just a little bit too big for airline requirements. The girls carefully unpacked each box, and then re-packages the donations into boxes that fit the airlines’ required dimensions. Then, they took the first flight of the morning, waking up at 4 a.m. to be sure they could get on the 6:45 a.m. flight to Maui.

“Michelle Kanehe from the Maui CBOC staff met us and let us in,” Adams said. “From there, the girls had to unpack the donations boxes and start sorting them.”

Donations of food and clothing are wonderful, and the outpouring of love and support that Maui has received is heartwarming. However, sorting donations is a time-consuming process. By helping to sort donations, Troop 672 saved the Maui CBOC staff a great deal of time. The girls even sorted the clothing by sizes so that it would be easier for Veterans to pick out donated items that they would like to have.

“Just getting things to Maui is hard right now,” Adams said. “I know bringing the boxes helped, and they didn’t just sort the donations we brought. They sorted all the donations in the Maui CBOC.”

Center for Development and Civic Engagement Chief Schoen Safotu helped coordinate getting donations to the Girl Scouts, and Maui CBOC Chief Kristin Cordaro assisted in coordinating a good time for them to come. In addition to writing cards for Veterans and sorting donations, the Girl Scout troop also helped morale at the CBOC. Staff have been working very hard to do all they can for Veterans on Maui. Seeing support from the community can serve to boost morale, and to let the staff know how much people care.

After the CBOC closed, the girls got to do a few other activities around the islands before flying out that night. Volunteers who go to Maui try to fly home each night to ensure that hotel rooms are free for displaced residents, as well as for tourists who bring money to the island. Troop 672 also presented a check to VAPIHCS on September 20, 2023, with a $500 donation in which they had raised during their previous cookie season. If you would like to donate to assist Maui Veterans, you can use this link.  Veterans needing VA assistance can call 1-800-214-1306.


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