Local company aids Maui relief

Published 6:12 pm Friday, August 25, 2023

An Austin business is doing its part to try and help the people of Maui as the island continues recovery efforts born out of the devastating wildfires that ravaged the Hawaiian island.

Over 100 people have died and many more are still unaccounted for from the early August wildfires that also destroyed the seaside community of Lahaina.

It was a tragedy that struck close to home for Skirmisher Publishing  owner Michael Varhola, who has a personal connection to the island through a friend he’s worked with in the past.

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“I fell in love with Hawaii and he played a big roll in that,” Varhola said. “Hawaii has just become a place that’s important to me.”

The gaming company, which publishes tabletop games and based in Austin, has sent to date $500 raised through the Maui Disaster Relief Bundle. The money was sent to the Hawaii Community Foundation’s Maui Strong Fund.

Skirmisher has also arranged, through the Solar Empowerment Initiative, to send 200 solar lanterns to Maui for people who still don’t  have access to electricity.

For $5, people can buy the bundle (valued at just under $52), which contains more than 20 gaming bundles, including Travel-Sized RPGs, role playing games that can adapt most any element into a gaming experience.

“Men & Monsters of Polynesia,” a gold-selling title from Skirmisher, is among the titles available, and through this source book uses myths and tales of Polynesia to craft stories.

In turn, the company will match what it receives for each bundle, meaning up to $10 from each bundle can be driven to the relief effort.

“We think it is important as a company to have a social conscience and do good where and when we can,” Varhola said in an earlier release. “Several years ago we published a role-playing game source book inspired by some of the places I have visited and things I have heard about during my visits to Hawaii, so it is a palace that we have especially strong feelings about.”

“We want to try and step up and do what we can,” Varhola added, commenting that he’s taken back to the state each time he sees pictures of fire-damaged Lahaina.

Varhola said that the company would continue offering the bundle and send money when certain thresholds are met.

However, the relief effort for Maui is only one part of a larger story. Before this, Varhola himself was on the ground in Ukraine, helping those affected by the 2022 invasion of the country by Russia.

He has purchased carloads of coats and has driven them from western Ukraine to the eastern side to deliver to children. He’s also helped create an activity book for children, which helps them identify land mines and unexploded munitions, a sad reality for a country that is still carrying on the fight.

Varhola said that these efforts are only part of the overall giving attitude of the people in Austin, and he is happy to be a part of it.

“I’m really proud to be here in Austin,” he said. “I think it’s a great community.”

Check out the Maui Disaster Relief Bundle.

Visit Skirmisher Publishing for more on the company.