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Booths at Ethnic Enrichment Festival in Swope Park raise money for Hawaii amid growing devastation from fires

Samoan booth at Ethnic Enrichment Festival
Posted at 9:46 PM, Aug 19, 2023
and last updated 2023-08-19 23:51:50-04

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — The death toll from the Maui fires continue to grow. According to NBC News, as of Friday there are 111 deaths confirmed with thousands still missing. In Kansas City, the local Hawaiian Civic Club continues to take donations, but other groups are finding their own ways to help out.

At the Ethnic Enrichment Festival in Swope Park, the Samoan community is finding ways to help with the Maui devastation.

"Samoans and Hawiians are very similar and we feel like a family, so anywhere we can help them," said Alofipo Jalaire, who's helping her family run the booth at the festival.

They're selling food, authentic jewelry, and a new addition: Lahaina stickers. Ten percent of those proceeds will go straight to Lahaina Relief.

The fires are especially scary for Jalaire's family because they have a relative who lives there.

"Unfortunately, we can’t help them physically while they’re there, but this is something small that we can do," Jalaire said. "We’re a small but mighty group of people."

On the other side of the park at the Hawaii booth, the group is thankful for any donation they receive, especially as the circumstances in their state get worse.

"Now there’s, you know, complications of getting aid, and people talking about being offered money for their land... which is a tough topic for Hawaiians," said Andi Meyer, the president of the local Hawaiian Civic Club.

Meyer said it's hard to watch their people suffer from so far away. She said the help and support they've received doesn't go unnoticed.

"Personally, at my workplace a lot of people have reached out, and just friends in the community among Kansas City have reached out," Meyer said. "And that’s really nice to know that it’s definitely on people’s radars."

So from one family to another, they say, "Thank you," especially for coming out on a hot day.

"The people of Kansas City, they’re amazing and they still come through for us, and so it’s just a community, honestly," Jalaire said.