Last week, the nation’s deadliest wildfire engulfed Hawaii. The town of Lahaina was completely devastated as the fire burned over 2,000 acres of Hawaii’s “royal capital” and with each passing day, the death toll continues to rise.

Survivors continue to process the total devastation, relief efforts are working around the clock, and the world anxiously follows any and all updates as we all ask ourselves, “What can we do to help?”

Relief efforts have found their way to the SouthCoast as a Wareham restaurant owner aims to support not just the islands, but her sister, too.

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Riverside Café’s Connection to Lahaina

Julie Phillips has been the proud owner of Riverside Café in Wareham since its grand opening in 2013. Over 5,000 miles away, her sister, Janna Phillips, was aiming to make a difference in the town of Lahaina in Hawaii.

“(Janna) loves cats and she was rescuing a lot of the feral cats out there, that was her thing,” said Phillips.

Janna moved back to the SouthCoast about two months ago, and while she wasn’t on the island during the wildfire, much of her life was still there.

“It’s been devastating for her,” Phillips said. “She lost friends and many people in the community.”

Janna managed to get in contact with two of her friends who found refuge in shelters.

“One escaped with just what he was wearing. He was the manager of the yacht club there,” Phillips said. “Another jumped out of his car and into the water, and has some injuries but is alive.”

Janna continues to try and make contact with other loved ones on the island.

How Riverside Café Plans to Help Lahaina

Between the heartbreak that the people of Hawaii are going through and the emotional connection that her sister has to the island, Phillips wanted to make a difference.

For the near future, Phillips will be collecting clothing donations at the restaurant to fill up four boxes to be shipped by the U.S. Postal Service. The donations will be going to a local church in Lahaina that is now acting as a shelter under the guidance of Minister Daniel Rice, who is one of few people allowed into town to help out.

Due to shipping costs, the café will be filling up a total of four boxes. Anyone who wishes to donate to their efforts is asked to call the restaurant first at (508) 295-2050.

Other Ways to Help Hawaii

Janna shared some helpful outlets that are working hard to help the people of Hawaii. Here are some ways you can make a difference.

  • A shelter run by Jennifer Ben-Dayan is accepting donations for children’s clothing, children’s toys and soft carry-ons for cats. Donations can be sent to 1140 Nakui Street, Makaweo, HI 96768
  • Donate directly to the church under the guidance of Minister Rice at 517 Kailiana Street, Wailiku, HI, 96793
  • Donate to the Maui Food Bank online
  • Donate to the Maui Human Society’s wishlist on Amazon

In these trying times for the people of Hawaii, a little café in Wareham aims to make a big difference, and that's an effort worth sharing.

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