Media mogul Oprah Winfrey and Hawaii native Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson have partnered together to launch the People’s Fund of Maui, a relief effort for those in the Lahaina and Kula communities devastated by rampant wildfires on the island.
The goal of the campaign is to “provide cash directly to the families and individuals” impacted by the natural disaster that began on Aug. 8.
The philanthropic effort was launched this week on Thursday, Aug. 31, with the two mega stars donating $10 million. It was not clear if the seed money for the initiative came from their personal pockets, pledges from corporate partners, or a combination of both.
In an interview with NBC News and via a press release, Winfrey said she and Johnson have been meeting with community leaders for the last couple of weeks to map out how they could be of service.
“The main thing I’ve been hearing is their concern about how to move forward under the immense financial burden,” Winfrey, who has an estate in Maui said. “The community has come together in so many wonderful ways, and my intention is to support those impacted as they determine what rebuilding looks like for them.”
“These leaders are offering their guidance to ensure our fund can put money directly in the hands of those individuals most affected,” The Rock explained, adding, his heartfelt gratitude to those who have already helped and mentioned, that those with “resources are a welcome assistance for those displaced within the Maui community.”
Winfrey added, “We want to have this fund go for as long as you, America, choose to help us with this fund.”
RELATED: Oprah Winfrey Heard Resident’s Outrage, Teams Up With The Rock to Launch Relief Fund for Hawaii Victims Affected By Maui Wildfires with $10 Million Donation
Many in social media took offense to the extremely wealthy influencers asking others to give— apparently ignoring that the celebrities collectively donated eight figures.
One Winfrey critic made a video, asking why she and Johnson would ask everyday people to contribute when she and him are both so rich.
“Ain’t them yo’ neighbors? I mean, you used to be giving away stuff on your show. ‘You get a car. You get a car. You get a car.’ Why can’t you reach into your $2 billion net worth and say ‘You get relief?’”
The man also suggested that the former talk show host was disconnected from the average American’s reality, including many living check-to-check, having back-to-school expenses with their children, and having just started working after the COVID-19 pandemic resulted in historic job loss.
“I know it’s been a long time since you been broke but let me just tell you that the prices in the ’90s when you was broke, are not today’s prices,” he continued, adding that Johnson is worth “$800 million dollars alone.”
“I mean Oprah it ain’t like you gotta pay a deductible for insurance because your property wasn’t touched. Between you and the president only giving people $700 I don’t know who worse.”
Another person claimed, “Before anyone is crazy enough to donate, know that the funds that Both Oprah and the Rock want the everyday Americans to donate to is managed by a ‘nonprofit’ company called the Entertainment Industry Foundation.”
“There are 13 executives that get paid over $3 million and additionally there are 29 Individuals that also receive over $100,000 compensation,” a “patriotic” X user wrote, spewing a conspiracy theory that Winfrey, Johnson, and others are scamming the people.
The user stated the Los Angeles-based nonprofit organization has 98 employees, with 69 earning an average of $64,529. What also annoyed the critics was that survivors could only apply for $1200 (per month) from the People’s Fund of Maui but they must first disclose personal information.
A third said, “They are tone deaf for certain. People are hurting everywhere. They, of all people, shouldn’t do the asking.”
Aside from the criticism, some social media users felt they would still support their cause because the need is much bigger than the conspiracist’s theory of deception.
“I don’t care. as long as the maui people benefit, like truly benefit, i could care less about what executives are being paid,” the person wrote. “The alternative is nothing be done. Unless someone is going to start an organization directly for maui and get as much attention as this, i don’t see what another alternative is.”
Ultimately the person said, “I rather for maui to benefit than to NOT benefit, even if that means the rich have to get a little richer.”
115 lives were lost during the Maui wildfire, which is estimated to have burned over 2,170 acres of land. Winfrey showed up to a shelter there to offer shampoo, sheets, diapers, and more aid relief to local residents, but more critics were not happy with her showing up alongside a CBS camera crew, who were told to wait outside. This episode seemingly became the fuel that led people to blame her for the fire.