The Salvation Army continues support of Puna economy; purchases shelter meals

July 30, 2018
David Sayre | | (808) 221-5025

Hilo, Hawaii, HI [July 30, 2018] – The economy in the Puna District is receiving a boost from a surprising source, the shelter meal services being offered by The Salvation Army’s Emergency Disaster Services [EDS] outreach efforts. After initially receiving generous in-kind donations from local restaurants and certified kitchens during the early days of the lava event, The Salvation Army’s EDS team has been purchasing food for the meal service at the shelters from local businesses and restaurants in Pahoa, Keaau and Volcano Village for weeks. 

“We have been supporting the local economy with the purchase of meals from businesses and restaurants in the Puna District,” said Victor Leonardi, EDS Coordinator and Incident Commander for The Salvation Army. “It’s really a key component to our EDS response efforts. Thanks to generous monetary donations, we’ve been able to sustain meal service at the shelters by purchasing most meals in the local communities that have been most affected by the downturn in business. It just makes sense to support local businesses.”

“The Salvation Army’s efforts are helping our community out twofold; not only are they feeding evacuees and those in need, but also they are supporting the ongoing economy of this disaster zone,” said Matt Purvis, president of Mainstreet Pahoa Association and owner of Tin Shack Bakery. “This is a thoughtful way to relieve this community's economic disaster as displaced people are provided their basic needs." 

Pancho and Jessie Aguilar, owners of P&J Tacos De La Calle, work and live in Puna and have been helping to feed evacuees at the shelters. “We had donated and served food the first three days of the event and were already back doing our regular business at the Kai store when Victor from The Salvation Army called,” said Jessie. “They wanted to support our taco truck business and so we stopped business as usual and have dedicated our time and energies to the shelters for the summer to provide additional meals there where we were able. It felt really good to be helping since a lot of our customers, who've since become our taco ohana, were in the shelters. I grew up in Leilani Estates and Black Sands areas, so it’s really close to home and it only felt right being a part of it.”

The Salvation Army also has been providing essential items and thrift store vouchers to those in need via a distribution center they operate at Pahoa three days a week. “More than 1,000 households have stopped by for assistance at our distribution center,” said Leonardi. “We’re providing those in need with cases of water, food boxes, and more for their immediate needs as well as providing emotional and spiritual care. Additionally, we’ve provided thousands of dollars of vouchers to our thrift stores to help those in need as they begin to move forward with their lives.

MEAL SERVICE – Since May 9, The Salvation Army has been coordinating the food service with three meals per day to the emergency shelters in the Puna District.  As of July 29, a total of 50,588 meals have been served including 9,159 vegetarian meals. The Salvation Army is regularly purchasing meals to support vendors in Pahoa, Keaau, and Volcano Village. 

DISTRIBUTION CENTER – Since May 13, The Salvation Army has been operating a distribution center at the Pahoa Community Center in the Puna District. As of July 29, there have been 1,936 visits from 1,063 households who have received donations from the distribution center including 1,533 mosquito repellant cans, 1,596 food boxes, 1,327 cases of water, and 1,028 hygiene kits. The distribution center is open Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays from 8:30 a.m. to 10:30 a.m.

FINANCIAL ASSISTANCE – Since May 9, The Salvation Army has been supporting affected households with financial assistance to The Salvation Army’s three thrift stores on the Island of Hawaii. As of July 29, a total of 131 households have received financial assistance with a total of $14,310 in vouchers that can be redeemed at The Salvation Army’s thrift stores in Hilo, Honokaa, and Kailua-Kona.

DONATIONS NEEDED - During emergencies, the best way the public can help is to provide monetary donations which allows the delivery of the exact relief supplies a community needs including the ability to purchase meals and key distribution center items to support the local economy. Plus, The Salvation Army uses 100 percent of all donations designated ‘disaster relief’ in support of disaster operations. To donate, visit

The public also may support The Salvation Army’s EDS efforts with monetary donations via the following corporate partnerships:
•    Bank of Hawaii – Bank of Hawaii announced that donations to The Salvation Army’s EDS efforts can now be made at any of Bank of Hawaii’s 69 branches across Hawaii, the West Pacific Region and American Samoa.
•    Central Pacific Bank – Central Pacific Bank announced its 35 branch locations will be accepting monetary donations to benefit Hawaii disaster relief efforts. Monetary donations will go toward The Salvation Army's EDS efforts in Hawaii, with the opportunity for customers to designate support of either Hawaii Island or Kauai relief and recovery efforts.
•    First Hawaiian Bank - Aloha for Hawaii Fund to support The Salvation Army’s relief efforts for the Kilauea Volcano Eruption on the Big Island and recovery efforts for flooding on Kauai and in East Oahu. Donations can now be made at any of First Hawaiian Bank’s 61 branches located in Hawaii, Guam and Saipan.
•    Hawaii National Bank - Hawaii National Bank is collecting monetary donations for The Salvation Army’s EDS efforts in Hawaii at all 13 of their branches on Oahu, Maui and The Big Island.
•    HiLife – Kokua Collection – A percentage of the proceeds from various HiLife clothing items in their Kokua Collection will be donated to Salvation Army Hawaiian and Pacific Islands division to assist with their relief efforts to victims of recent devastating floods on Oahu and Kauai as well as erupting volcano on Hawaii island. For details, visit

Corporate and foundation contributions to The Salvation Army’s EDS efforts in Hawaii to date have included: Ansaldo Honolulu JV; Bank of Hawaii Foundation; Central Pacific Bank Foundation; Enterprise, Alamo & National Car Rental Hawaii, Hawaii Community Foundation, Hawaiian Airlines, Hemic, Kaiser Permanente, Kalama Beach Corporation, Pacific Transfer, Vertex Pharmaceuticals Incorporated, and Wells Fargo.


About The Salvation Army Disaster Services
The Salvation Army is uniquely positioned to serve those impacted by disasters, however long it takes, because they are there before, during, and after impact. Beyond serving immediate physical needs, they also meet the emotional and spiritual needs that are unique to catastrophic events. The Salvation Army:
• Delivers disaster relief to an average of 382,000 people annually.
• Serves every ZIP code in the United States and touches almost 25 million lives a year.
• Has served survivors of every major national disaster since 1900.
• Remains in communities until needs are met and beyond.

About The Salvation Army – Hawaiian & Pacific Islands Division
The Salvation Army – Hawaiian & Pacific Islands Division covers the state of Hawaii and the Pacific Islands including Guam, Republic of the Marshall Islands and The Federated States of Micronesia. The Division offers a wide variety of programs throughout the islands including: adult day health services; affordable senior housing; at-risk youth services and housing; camp & conference center; family stores; food distribution and feeding programs; homeless services; The Kroc Center – Hawaii’s largest community center; preschools & day care services; social services – emergency assistance; substance abuse treatment; and work therapy & rehabilitation services. For more information, call 808-988-2136, visit, or follow us on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.

About The Salvation Army
The Salvation Army annually helps more than 30 million Americans overcome poverty, addiction, and economic hardships through a range of social services. By providing food for the hungry, emergency relief for disaster survivors, rehabilitation for those suffering from drug and alcohol abuse, and clothing and shelter for people in need, The Salvation Army is doing the most good at 7,600 centers of operation around the country. In the first-ever listing of “America’s Favorite Charities” by The Chronicle of Philanthropy, The Salvation Army ranked as the country’s largest privately funded, direct-service nonprofit. For more information, visit Follow us on Twitter @SalvationArmyUS and #DoingTheMostGood.

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