Donations of rice, canned goods, clothing, bedding and other items to assist Tongan storm victims on the island of Ha‘apai are now being accepted at the Free Church of Tonga, 15-1518 17th St. in Hawaiian Paradise Park.
The church is on the corner of 17th and Kaloli streets.
People may drop off items from 7 a.m.-6 p.m. every day. The donations will be packed in a big container to be shipped for free by Matson and Young Bros. from Hilo to Honolulu to Nukualofa, Tonga.
Category 5 Cyclone Ian, a huge storm described as the worst to hit Tonga in decades, slammed into the northern islands Jan. 11 before moving on to the main island overnight. Houses were flattened, roofs blown away and trees and power lines brought down.
Ha‘apai Gov. Tu‘i Ha‘angana said the damage is so bad, he can see from one side of the island to the other. Ha‘apai is home to about 8,000 people and is popular with tourists.
Cyclone Ian damaged 75 percent of the homes on the island, said Tivaini “Tiva” Tatofi, contact person for the local collection drive, which is being coordinated by the congregation of the church in HPP and other concerned island residents.
For more information, call Tatofi at 205-2486 or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org. Checks also can be written to the Free Church of Tonga and dropped off or mailed to the church at HC1 Box 5122, Keaau HI 96749.
All donated money will go into the church’s relief fund for the storm vicims, said Tatofi. Call him if you would like the group to pick up donated items.