In August, Maui, Hawaii, faced devastating wildfires that claimed the lives of 115 individuals and destroyed numerous properties, as reported by CNN.
By September 3, Maui County officials announced that the fire in Lahaina was under control, with the Olinda and Kula fires being 90 percent and 95 percent contained, respectively.
Search-and-rescue teams, consisting of cadaver dogs and forensic anthropologists, meticulously sifted through the ash in the burned area, looking for bone fragments. Without fingerprints or dental records for human remains identification, officials are now using DNA testing. However, the limited availability of DNA samples from the victim’s immediate family hinders meticulous identification.
In response to the catastrophe, celebrities Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson and Oprah Winfrey introduced the “People’s Fund of Maui” on August 31 via an Instagram video. Inspired by Dolly Parton’s philanthropic efforts, the initiative aimed to support the affected residents. Winfrey stated that the fund would allow donors to aid those impacted by the fire directly.
They kickstarted the campaign with a generous donation of $10 million, and the announcement clarified that adults displaced due to the Lahaina and Kula fires could avail $1200 monthly as a recovery aid.
However, a segment of the audience voiced concerns on various social media platforms, questioning the need for such affluent figures to solicit funds from the general public. One noteworthy comment on Instagram read, “Math ain’t mathing with this one. You guys have so much money; you can donate it and make it back within a year.”
Similarly, on TikTok, both Winfrey’s and Johnson’s posts about the campaign were met with skepticism, with the sentiment echoing that they, or their wealthy peers, could have donated more substantial amounts.
The feedback wasn’t unexpected given their considerable net worths, as noted by Forbes – Winfrey at $2.5 billion and Johnson at $270 million.
Winfrey posted a follow-up video on Instagram on September 2 to address concerns. She expressed gratitude towards the 10,000 individuals who donated and mentioned the thousands seeking assistance, emphasizing that efforts were underway to expedite the distribution process.