Redwood Empire Food Bank, Healdsburg Chamber of Commerce latest organizations to raise money for Maui fire survivors

A number of Sonoma County businesses have stepped in to aid Maui survivors of the wildfires, two more just joined the list.|

Local Sonoma County groups have organized fundraising efforts and support for those who have been affected by the wildfires in Maui over the last week. Two more joined the efforts in the past 24 hours.

Redwood Empire Food Bank is one of the latest organizations to offer aid by sending 16 pallets containing 94,000 Clif Bars to the Hawai’i Foodbank.

David Goodman, CEO of Redwood Empire Food Bank, said those affected by the wildfires are going to need healthy and portable meals.

“(The survivors) are on the move, they’re going to the insurer or to a FEMA location and they don’t have storage,” Goodman said. “The food that is available needs to be high quality, nutritious, recognizable food that people can relate to … and that’s grab-and-go.”

Goodman said the work of food banks doesn’t end when the fires are contained and the reporters leave. He advised those working with the food banks to pace themselves and understand that they’re “in it for the long haul.”

Redwood Empire Food Bank received additional help from surrounding food banks during the Sonoma Complex Fires — comprised of the Nuns, Tubbs and Pocket Fires. Goodman said this is partly what inspired Redwood Empire to offer assistance to Hawai’i Foodbank.

He said that, when the time is right, they are also ready to send staff to assist the food bank when needed.

“I don’t think there’s a single individual who is looking at what’s happening in Maui and can’t understand what the experience is like,” he said. “The idea that we as a food bank can turn around and help other communities is tremendous and, in this experience, we immediately contacted the Hawai’i Foodbank to let them know that we would gather food that would be best suited for the type of situation they’re in.”

While other Sonoma County organizations are planning fundraisers for the fire victims-- the Belly Left Coast Tap Room, for example, is donating all proceeds from merchandise sales to Maui charities-- Healdsburg’s Chamber of Commerce rallied community support through one of its pre-planned events.

Tallia Hart, CEO of the Healdsburg Chamber of Commerce, said the Annual BBQ Luau Party, already planned for Wednesday night with a luau theme, gave them the opportunity to work with a sister chamber of commerce to provide aid to those impacted by the wildfires.

Final totals for how much money was raised hasn’t been calculated yet, but Hart estimates they raised more than $10,000, which will be donated to the Maui Chamber of Commerce Foundation’s disaster relief fund for local businesses and their employees.

“Our business community really understands the feeling of loss, being closed down during COVID and even having our own fires the last few years,” Hart said. “There’s a familiarity there and I think our county knows the impact these things have so we definitely wanted to give back.”

You can reach Staff Writer Sara Edwards at 707-521-5487 or sara.edwards@pressdemocrat. com. On Twitter @sedwards380.

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