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Windward // Windward Oahu Coverstory
MidWeek Staff

Lanikai House Fire Lights Up Community Of Helpers

By SHANNON ROSENBERG

Less than one month ago, Lanikai house-fire victims Gregory Craft, and Jerry and Brett Weinerth watched their Mokulua Drive rental home burn to the ground.

But since then, they’ve been the recipients of over- whelming help and aloha from family, friends and even complete strangers.

“It’s amazing all that people have done for us,” said Jerry Weinerth. “We tried to go back to the house to salvage what we could, but there wasn’t really anything left.”

One group giving time to their cause is “Saving with Aloha,” which is made up of practiced couponers who use their snipping skills to get as many items as they can for free or reduced prices.

“They had toiletries for us within a day,” said Weinerth. “They were really good about it. They’ve been working with my son Brett and really helped him out a lot. They talked him into opening up a bank account, so that people can make donations to him.”

Brett recently started a job at Whole Foods Kailua and was in for a surprise on his first day back to work: He was greeted with a check for $2,000 from his fellow employees. “It was extremely thoughtful and helpful,” said his dad. “All of that money was from tips that Whole Foods had gathered up and was going to give to charity.”

The good deeds don’t stop there. Weinerth said a stranger gave Brett a brand-new phone after learning about his situation via Facebook. “This is what’s amazing,” he said. “Someone gave him a brand new android, and he doesn’t even know who it was! These are some really great stories.”

In fact, Weinerth recently took three bags of clothes to Salvation Army because people had donated so much. Scott Hawaii gave them slippers, and someone else donated a bag of completely new Billabong clothes. “My mailman has even donated clothes!

“Lanikai is a great community,” he added. “My neighbors have given us so much.”

And Weinerth and his son are staying positive.

“My son told me that he’s had a hard time accepting so many gifts because we have always been the ones to give. But I told him that it’s time to learn humility and learn how to accept.”

Boardriders Bar & Grill also had a fundraiser July 6 for roommate Greg Craft, a friend of the restaurant’s owner. The event included a silent auction, raffle, door prizes and donations from local merchants.

According to fire officials, 35 firefighters responded to the June 21 blaze, which totally engulfed the house, caused an estimated $360,000 damage and left the three men homeless until the Red Cross intervened.

For details on how to help the fire victims, call 375-0111.

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