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Reno resident born in Maui selling banana bread to help family and friends

Three women in summer clothes
Courtesy of Breeana Fernandez
Breeana Fernandez, center, with friends in Lahaina, Hawaii, in a photo taken before the wildfires.

A Reno resident born in Maui is raising funds to help family and friends following devastating wildfires.

Breeana Fernandez, 29, has been living in Reno for five years, but calls Maui her home. The fire that started Tuesday and devastated the island, hit especially close.

Her mom and sister live in Wailuku, an area in Maui that was not in the direct path of the fire that destroyed Lahaina.

“I do have some friends and some family members that are still not accounted for as of right now. But we're staying hopeful,” Fernandez said.

Fernandez spent her teenage years in Lahaina, where she has many treasured memories.

“The banyan tree is just the most beautiful pinnacle. I know everybody goes to appreciate it. There's so many memories that are just held onto there. It's a historic and memorable place itself,” she said.

The 150-year-old Banyan tree served as a focal point of Lahaina. News reports show the tree to still be standing, but heavily scorched.

Although she is thousands of miles away, Fernandez has spent these past few days baking banana bread and collecting donations to help her community.

“I was like ‘I can get a crapload of bananas, and flour and butter and I can be in the kitchen and $10 a loaf. If I sell 10 of them, that’s 100 toothbrushes that they can get there,” Fernandez said.

The money raised will be used to ship boxes to Hawaii with essential items such as toothbrushes, hairbrushes, clothes and reading glasses.

The community is in significant need, Fernandez said, and children seem to be the priority.

“Adults really are not asking for stuff. They're wanting stuff for their children. So we're going to Dollar Tree and we're just going to buy all of these items, separate them so that it will be easier to pass them out,” she said.

Fernandez reminded people to be mindful when planning trips to Hawaii.

“I understand that people have vacations, I understand that you have this beautiful view of Hawaii, but it's not Hawaii right now. There are people who are struggling. But people think just because they're going to a neighboring island that it's okay but a lot of those Maui residents don't have a home, they're going to those neighboring islands,“ she said.

Officials say it could take years — or longer — to repair the damage from this week's wildfires.

If you would like to support Fernandez’s cause, contact her at 808-286-0314.

Maria joined KUNR Public Radio in December 2022 as a staff reporter. She is interested in stories about underserved communities, immigration, arts and culture, entertainment, education and health.
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