The Maui Wildfires: A Whole Community Approach In Moving Donations

Authored by Alexia Nobles

In the first few weeks of the Maui wildfire response, a tsunami of product donations flooded the island, overwhelming first responders on the ground. The influx of donations was so large that sorting and distributing came to a virtual standstill, which is where ALAN stepped in.

As part of the disaster’s Joint Donations and Volunteer Management Task Force, we were tasked with leading the logistics task for Hawai’i VOAD – and finding ways to supply needs-based aid via the effective movement, management and deployment of these donated products.   

One such needs-based request for assistance came from Peace Builders, a California-based non-profit. It reached out to ALAN with a request for temporary warehouse space and transloading services within the Long Beach, CA, vicinity for 250 donated Serta mattresses. 

ALAN partner Good360 was transporting the mattresses from New York to California, and Matson had agreed to donate the ocean transport to Maui. But the vital logistics services needed to stage the mattresses between these two moves were still missing.

Throughout the wildfire response, many of ALAN’s partners had already stepped up and expressed their commitment to donate logistics services. One of these partners was States Logistics Services, who immediately said yes to Peace Builders’ request.

From there on, the ALAN team collaborated with Peace Builders, Good360, and States Logistics to coordinate the mattress delivery and transloading for onward movement to Maui.

Within two days of delivery – from October 10 to October 12 – the States Logistics team had successfully unloaded, re-palletized, and packed the mattresses into a shipping container provided by Matson. And by the end of October, the mattresses had arrived in Maui, where they were distributed to those affected by the wildfires. 

“We could not have shipped these new mattresses to the fire victims in Maui without the immeasurable help from ALAN to secure warehouse space for transloading” said Peace Builders Director Diane Paloma Eskenazi. “ALAN is dedicated to aiding those suffering in disasters and in poverty, and it was a pleasure to work with them.” 

This case, which was one of more than 13 ALAN has filled for Maui wildfire relief, is one of many that exemplifies the ‘whole community approach’ strategy needed for effective disaster relief – even if it’s a community an ocean away. While each responding party was located in different areas of the United States, ALAN played a pivotal role in unifying the private and public sectors to ensure the mattresses reached survivors as efficiently as possible.

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