Amid the deadly devastation brought by fast-moving wildfires on the island of Maui, which has been in an extreme state of emergency since Tuesday, Amazon founder Jeff Bezos and his fiancé and entertainment reporter Lauren Sánchez are joining the growing list of celebrities showing support for those impacted.
Sánchez announced on Friday via Instagram that the “heartbroken” pair are pledging $100 million to aid in what will surely be a years-long recovery.
She wrote, “The immediate needs are important, and so is the longer term rebuilding that will have to happen — even after much of the attention has subsided. Jeff and I are creating a Maui Fund and are dedicating $100 million to help Maui get back on its feet now and over the coming years as the continuing needs reveal themselves.”
Indeed, though there are many urgent needs for those displaced right now, including water, food, clothing and shelter, there is awareness that this recovery will take far more than a few news cycles. Celebrities including Hawaiian actor Jason Momoa have been vocal on social media with sharing ways for his followers to contribute, while Oprah Winfrey, who has some 2,000 acres on the island, is there personally now, buying and distributing supplies to those in need.
Billionaire Bezos — whose estimated net worth is $163 billion, the world’s third-richest person, according to Bloomberg — has a personal connection to Maui in the form of a 14-acre property on South Maui’s La Perouse Bay, which he purchased in 2021 for $78 million. There’s no word yet on how exactly the Maui Fund will work, but there is no doubt it’s a gift that is much needed by a community where the death toll due to the fires has hit 67, the deadliest in the state’s history.
Added Sánchez in her Instagram post: “We are thinking of all the families that have lost so much and a community that has been left devastated.”