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Kids and Money: Kids want to help Maui wildfire victims

May 25, 2024May 25, 2024

People hold hands during a community paddle-out, organized by nonprofit Na Kama Kai for those affected by the Maui fires, at Kuhio Beach in Honolulu on Aug. 19.

Parents have heard this a lot from their children in the aftermath of the deadly wildfire on the island of Maui: I want to help.

When it comes to helping those in need, children are among the first to respond — enthusiastically and with a willingness to empty their piggy banks. Whether it’s giving away proceeds from selling lemonade and cookies or organizing a food or blanket drive, kids are eager to help.

The fire that destroyed blocks upon blocks of the old whaling village of Lahaina presents a relevant opportunity for parents to teach their kids about charitable giving and helping those in need. Even grade schoolers can begin to develop the charitable touch.

Here are steps that can help kids of all ages:

Even a simple act of writing a check to a Maui disaster-relief organization — or contributing to the collection at church — won’t go unnoticed by your children. Don’t just write the check; talk with your children about what you are doing and why.

Some kids want to give away all their money to charities. This can be tricky, but talk to your children about channeling their giving instincts to one or two organizations. Better yet, donate to organizations that have touched their lives.

If giving is an important value you want to teach your kids, encourage them to set aside part of their allowance for charitable purposes.

Teach your kids that donating time and a little muscle — say to help at a food bank or to collect kids clothing to be boxed and shipped to Lahaina — is just as important as sending a check.

Whenever there is a natural disaster, first responders are on the scene quickly. Unfortunately, scam artists are usually not far behind. That’s a word of caution if your children want to donate money to victims in Maui.

It hasn’t taken long for reports to surface that scammers have started making appeals for donations — with the money earmarked for their pockets instead of going to legitimate causes.

If you have older children, talk about some of the red flags that could point to a scam. For example, if a charity requests donations through suspicious payment methods, such as wire transfers, gift cards and cryptocurrency, consider it a warning sign. In addition, beware of people seeking donations who are in need of immediate cash or credit-card data. It’s likely a fraud.

Bad actors also try to imitate reputable organizations, with similar-sounding names. Only donate to organizations we all know and trust, such as United Way or the Salvation Army.

In Hawaii, information about how to help those in need on Maui can be found at Organizations such as the Maui Food Bank and the Aloha United Way are among the organizations in need of donations.

Questions, comments, column ideas? Send an email to [email protected].

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