Oprah Winfrey and Dwayne “the Rock” Johnson have announced the launch of a relief fund with an initial donation of 10 million dollars (£7.9 million) for the people of Maui to rebuild their lives following the deadly US wildfires.
The Hollywood duo have helped set up the People’s Fund Of Maui which will allow donations to be sent “directly” to the residents whose homes were burned in the fires that incinerated the town of Lahaina and killed more than 100 people.
TV star Winfrey, who is also a part-time resident, said she was inspired to create the fund after reading about the success of country music veteran Dolly Parton and her My People Fund, set up to offer financial assistance to residents following the wildfires in Sevier County, Tennessee, in 2016.
Sharing a video with US actor Johnson on Instagram, Winfrey said the pair had seen first hand the “devastating” impact of the fires and wanted to find a way that would guarantee donations would go “directly into the hands of Lahaina residents”.
She said: “We were so concerned about what was happening in Maui that we were texting back and forth and I read this article that Dolly Parton had given money in her community and I said ‘I think this is the answer’.
“…So we have created the People’s Fund Of Maui that will put money directly in the hands of the people who need it right now. If you send a donation…that money is going to go to one of many residents who have been displaced in Maui, we guarantee.”
Johnson, who voiced the character of demigod Maui in Disney film Moana, continued: “I know a lot of people out there, as Oprah and I have been finding, are having a hard time trusting where the money goes.
“…It is a clean direct from you to their hands, and right away with some real immediacy because as we’re finding, as you guys around the world know, with disasters like this the number one need is money in hand.”
Winfrey added: “People being able to have their own agency, being able to make decisions for themselves about what they need and what their family needs, that’s our goal – to get that to the people now.”
The fund, part of the Entertainment Industry Foundation, will allow every resident over the age of 18 who lost their “primary residence” in the wildfires to apply for 1200 dollars per month.