PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — For David Kawika Kahoilua, the devastating wildfires in Lahaina on Maui are personal.

“I’m born and raised in Lahaina, very familiar with the streets and the buildings that unfortunately are no longer there.” said Kahoilua, the owner/operator of the Bamboo Grove Hawaiian Grille in South Portland. He organized a fundraiser and will donate the proceeds from the event to the relief events in Maui.

“This is a fundraiser for our friends and family back in Maui, and specifically in Lahaina,” he told KOIN 6 News. The fundraiser, with food, live music, raffle items and more, continued into the early evening of Saturday.

Kahoilua said he felt called to help his friends and family, some of whom are still unaccounted.

Some of the proceeds will go to specific families, like Jim Sequeria’s.

“Seven family members, my cousins and then one auntie and uncle, each lost a home. Burnt to the ground, lost everything,” Sequeria said. “So, when I heard from Christie that they wanted to sponsor my family who’s in Lahaina and lost our homes, we were just overwhelmed.”

He said his family has lived in Lahaina since the 1700s.

“The spirit of aloha is, you know when things are really hard, we just seem to find a way to eat together. When we can eat together it eases the pain,” he told KOIN 6 News. “We’re sorry that our families can’t join us, and some of them are struggling with that, but we’re so grateful we can at least be here and just support them and say we love them.”

Donate: Maui Strong Fund

“I highly encourage people if you’re in the area to visit those events. I mean, our event is just one of many,” he said. “And it’s not a competition, it’s a collaborative effort to bring the spirit of aloha back to Maui.”

The owners are grateful for the help and support of this fundraising effort. But it’s only the beginning.

“It’s our hope to carry this energy on forward,” Kahoilua said. “I mean, things are difficult now, but as people are identified, I think they’re gonna get a lot more difficult. And we’re going to need to provide more love and support in any way we can far into the future. So let’s not forget that.”

Search continues

  • Burnt out cars line the sea wall after the wildfire on Friday, Aug. 11, 2023, in Lahaina, Hawaii. Hawaii emergency management records show no indication that warning sirens sounded before people ran for their lives from wildfires on Maui that wiped out a historic town.(AP Photo/Rick Bowmer)

The remains of 114 people have been found, most of them yet to be identified. Hawaii Gov. Josh Green has said the death toll will likely rise in the days to come as the painstaking search for remains continues in the heaps of rubble and ash in Lahaina, a seaside community of 12,000 and a tourist hotspot on Maui.

Officials acknowledge they don’t have a firm number on the missing. Many initially listed as unaccounted for have since been located.

A spokesperson for Maui County, Mahina Martin, said Saturday that authorities involved in the search effort were working to compile a list of the missing, and continued to vet the information being gathered.

The only publicly available list has been put together by good Samaritans hoping to link family with loved ones.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.