The Mid-Alabama Red Cross is currently gathering donations for Hawaii, but the non-profit is asking for checks instead of supplies due to the distance and the required manpower.
“People there need our support. Even though we’re in Alabama, we can still pitch in and help them get what they need. Their crisis is our crisis,” said Anne Rygiel, the executive director of Mid-Alabama Red Cross.
Rygiel added their chapter is planning to deploy a team of workers and volunteers to Hawaii in the next few weeks. By happenstance, one is already there.
“We have a Red Cross worker from our area that had just gotten back from her 6-month deployment, and she was on vacation in Hawaii, and she decided to stay and help with the effort. If that’s not the Red Cross spirit, I don’t know what is,” Rygiel said.
Kelly Viall is the chef and instructor at Birmingham Sushi Classes. Viall has been to Hawaii eight times and has a special love for Maui.
“Everybody I think that goes there falls in love. The people are amazing, they’re so nice and kind,” Viall said.
Viall also knows what it’s like to lose everything — after Hurricane Ivan hit Gulf Shores in 2004.
She’s offering a chance to win a free sushi class if you donate to the Maui Food Bank or a similar charity and direct message a photo to the Birmingham Sushi Classes’ Instagram.
“Anything you can do is greatly appreciated no matter how small you might think the amount is,” Viall said.
To donate, you can text “REDCROSS” to 90999 or head to the Mid-Alabama Red Cross website. The Birmingham Jewish Federation is also collecting monetary donations for Maui.