‘Little bit of hope’: Volunteers find woman’s engagement ring after fire destroys home

Volunteers are helping homeowners in Maui find their items after the deadly wildfires went through the area. (Source: KHNL)
Published: Aug. 29, 2023 at 2:56 PM CDT
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KULA, Hawaii (KHNL/Gray News) - Volunteers are on a mission to help homeowners find hope in the ashes left behind after fires tore through several Maui neighborhoods.

Volunteers flown in from the mainland by the Samaritan’s Purse, a relief organization that’s part of the Billy Graham ministries, are sifting through handfuls of ash where homeowners believe precious items can be found.

And they’ve already had some success — unearthing a beloved diamond ring.

“The best find at this site was finding a daughter her mother’s engagement ring,” said Gabrille Bouquet, a volunteer with Samaritan’s Purse. “To have one thing like that means so much. It is really precious.”

Another homeowner, Ross Hart, said having the help of volunteers is making a difference.

“It’s hard by yourself digging and scraping through the ash. You start finding things and then pretty soon you are off track and you’re going everywhere. These folks are more focused, and they know what they are looking for,” he said.

Tony Williamson, the manager of the volunteer program, said they hope to do as much as they can to help everyone on Maui impacted by the devastating fires.

“These personal items mean a ton to these families. We hope to recover them and find that little bit of hope and bring a little bit of closure in this time,” Williamson said.

The charity has also flown in tons of equipment, which is on standby to help the hundreds of residents of Lahaina.

Those residents still don’t know if they will have the same opportunity as those in Kula. That’s because there are so many hazardous materials and dense debris in that area.

Officials are planning to spray it down with a sealant that would trap the debris and make it safer and easier to clean up and ship, but once that happens, residents would not be allowed to return to their properties.