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Benefit concert in the Maui sunflowers raises $72,000 for Ukraine children

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Soul Kitchen, who performed during the first half of the daylong event, was just one of ten performers and groups that offered their talent in support for the children of Ukraine. Photography Credit: Bruce Forrester

A total of $72,000 was raised on Maui to support children in Ukraine during “A Concert for Ukraine in the Maui Sunflowers,” organizers announced.

The benefit concert and farm tour event was held on April 24, at the Pacific Biodiesel farm in Central Maui where 35 acres of sunflowers–the national flower of Ukraine–were in full bloom.

More than 400 people attended the concert, including 320 ticket holders with reserved tent seating, plus musicians, volunteers, and vendors.  One hundred percent of ticket sales and donations, as well as a portion of proceeds from farm stand and food sales, were directed to UNICEF USA for Ukraine Emergency Relief.

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These funds were doubled by a generous donation match from philanthropists Jeff Bezos and Lauren Sanchez announced shortly after ticket sales began. The event sold out in less than two weeks, according to organizers.

Pacific Biodiesel Co-founders Bob and Kelly King spearheaded the fundraiser along with Manaʻo Radio. Photo Credit: Bruce Forrester

Bob and Kelly King, co-founders of Pacific Biodiesel, spearheaded the event along with Manaʻo Radio.

“I am so proud of Maui residents for stepping up, heart and soul, to come together for the children and families victimized by the unprovoked war on Ukraine,” said Kelly King. “This was the largest public sunflower farm tour event we’ve held – and adding the concert was a joint effort of so many sponsors, musicians and volunteers, all of whom share Maui’s compassion, love and desire for peace.”

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“The joy in hearing the best of our local music, and knowing what a good cause we were all working toward, was evident in the great comments of appreciation from so many participants,” King said.

The April benefit concert for Ukraine, attended by more than 400 attendees, was held on Maui at the family farm of Pacific Biodiesel. Photo Credit: Bruce Forrester

Maui musicians who donated their time and talent to perform included George Kahumoku Jr, Gail Swanson, Arlie Asiu Band, Soul Kitchen, Benny Uyetake, Rowdy Love, Jimmy Dillon & Dayan Kai, Brown Chicken Brown Cow String Band, and Marty Dread and the House Shakers with guest Nara Boone. 

During the event, special guests Vladlena Bugay and her Ukrainian family, who were vacationing on Maui when the war began and are now refugees here, participated in the opening Blessing, shared their story and sang the Ukraine National Anthem alongside Maui’s Gail Swanson who performed the anthem on flute.

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Later, Maui County Councilmembers Kelly King and Gabe Johnson presented to the Bugay family a Maui County Resolution condemning Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

Ukrainian refugee Vladlena Bugay, surrounded by her family, sang the Ukraine National Anthem accompanied by Mauiʻs Gail Swanson on flute. Photography Credit: ShootingStarsMaui

“Maui’s music community quickly came together in support of Ukraine for this benefit concert,” said Michael Elam, Board President of Manaʻo Radio. “Initial plans were for two or three hours of music, but the more musicians we spoke with, the more signed up – and before we knew it, we had a daylong lineup of incredible musicians eager to take part. This type of event that brings our Maui community together in music is exactly what Manaʻo Radio is about. It was our pleasure to partner with Pacific Biodiesel to host this very special event.”

Sponsors Hawaiian Electric, Maui Tropical Plantation, Maui Disposal and Hawaiian Paddle Sports covered most of the event expenses, allowing 100% of ticket sales to be donated to UNICEF USA, which is providing life-saving programs to respond to the needs of children in Ukraine affected by the war.

According to UNICEF USA, women and children make up 90% of the Ukraine refugee population, which now exceeds 4.7 million people. UNICEF USA calls this refugee crisis unprecedented in Europe since World War II.  

For more information or to donate to UNICEF USA for Ukraine Emergency Relief, go to www.unicefusa.org.

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