September 12, 2023 : By Office of Communications & Public Engagement
Liberty University’s LU Serve Now disaster response program is preparing to send a group of 10 students and two staff members to Lahaina, Hawaii, Sept. 17-24 following the aftermath of last month’s devastating wildfire.
In coordination with longtime partner Samaritan’s Purse, team members will be sifting ash at home sites and attempting to locate personal belongings that may have survived among the debris. The fire is now deemed the deadliest U.S. wildfire in over a century. It is estimated to have affected more than 3.4 square miles on Maui, destroying over 2,000 structures in the historic town of Lahaina.
“Samaritan’s Purse has been a key partner with the Serve Now program; a majority of our deployments are with them,” said Chad Nelson, director of LU Serve. “They have such solid structures in place to ensure safety of volunteers and quality of work being done on behalf of others. It’s such a tremendous testimony as we serve others alongside them.”
LU Serve Now has also been in contact with Hope Chapel, a local church in Kihei, Hawaii, that has become a main hub for the distribution of goods and supplies as well as crisis counseling for those who have been affected. Nelson said when the church’s care and counseling pastor expressed a specific need to train 50 lay leaders in crisis counseling, LU Serve Now purchased and donated 50 books on crisis counseling written by Liberty School of Behavioral Sciences Professor Dr. Jeanne Brooks, Ph.D.
Liberty has also set up a Support Maui Fund to help provide shelter, food, and hygiene supplies for citizens impacted by the wildfires.
The trip to Lahaina will mark LU Serve Now’s first trip in the 2023-24 academic year. Another team will be deploying Oct. 8-14 (over Fall Break) to Jackson, Ky., with Samaritan’s Purse to help residents rebuild after historic flooding last fall. The trip will be Serve Now’s second trip to Jackson. Earlier this year, the program sent students to Englewood, Fla., for hurricane relief and Griffin, Ga., for tornado relief.