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Hawaii Islanders to stage fundraiser at Humpy’s for hurricane victims in Puerto Rico

Updated: 
November 9, 2017 - 1:40pm

KAILUA-KONA — Chris McNew picked a cause both near to his heart and far from his home as the inspiration for the first fundraising event he’s ever been involved with, let alone staged.

McNew teamed up with Joshua Lambus of the Maka Project to set up “From Our Island to Yours,” a fundraiser for those in Puerto Rico impacted by Hurricane Maria.

The event, which runs from 6-11 p.m. tonight in the middle room between Laverne’s Sports Bar and the second level of Humpy’s Big Island Alehouse, is free to the public.

“Puerto Rico accepted people from other islands to come there for help after Hurricane Irma,” McNew said. “Then Maria hit Puerto Rico, and hit them hard. These people were trying to help and then they got squashed.”

McNew’s girlfriend, Milly, lives in Puerto Rico — a U.S. island territory that remains ravaged after Hurricane Maria made landfall there in September.

He didn’t speak to her for a week after the storm, as electrical grids across the island, not to mention water sources and homes, were destroyed.

“We were in touch right before and right after it began,” McNew said. “I had a feeling she was OK, but after (several) days not talking to her, I started freaking out a little.”

Milly charged her cellphone in a car so as to contact McNew. Nearly two months have gone by since and much of the island’s electrical system remains in disrepair, as do a significant number of its water sources.

McNew said the sentiment he’s getting from the island is that people there are frustrated and disillusioned, particularly by some of the words and actions of President Donald Trump in the immediate aftermath of Hurricane Maria.

“I saw Trump throwing paper towels (into a crowd) and just thought, ‘Come on, man,’” McNew said. “They’ve been pretty upset things weren’t going as quickly as they’d hoped. They want to get up and running again, but they just don’t have the resources to do it.”

Not knowing exactly where to begin in his effort to help, McNew reached out to Lambus, who’s had some experience setting up fundraisers and was looking for more.

“It’s something we (at the Maka Project) have been wanting to do for awhile, and this was the perfect place to start for us,” Lambus said.

Humpy’s management offered the space free of charge, generosity Lambus said he’s come to count on from the Coconut Grove Establishment in which he’s held similar events in the past.

Local businesses have donated several items for a silent auction, including boat trips, massages, yoga lessons and even 5oo square feet of sod. Jewelry, art and gift certificates to restaurants and coffee shops will also be open for bid.

Bands George Witt and Going Nowhere will perform over tonight’s five-hour event, with DJ Tapedek on hand to fill up the silence between sets.

Kona Brewing Co. has also donated a keg. All of the proceeds from beer sales, as well as all the profits from the silent auction, will be sent to ConPRmetidos, an organization in Puerto Rico that works in conjunction with the Foundation of Puerto Rico.

Together, the two organizations have set up a fund specifically for hurricane relief. Lambus said a rather unique characteristic of the fund is that 100 percent of money that goes into it supplies the relief effort.

Lambus has no ties in Puerto Rico, but he’s from Houston originally and knew several people impacted by the devastation Hurricane Harvey wrought there in August.

“Puerto Rico is another island community, same as us,” Lambus said. “And it’s just kind of crazy to see what’s happened over there with more than 60 percent of the island still out of power. That’s like the entire population of Hawaii without power. I think it just kind of struck close to home.

“It seems like these events have reached everybody, no matter who you are.”

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