9 Ways to Help Wildfire Victims Right Now (And Going Forward)
Wildfires continued to rage on the West Coast this week, leaving hundreds of thousands of families displaced and at least 41,000 structures destroyed in California alone. The death toll has swelled to more than 20, and the fires aren’t nearly out. Here, nine ways to help wildfire victims in Washington, Oregon and California.
1. Give Immediate Relief to Those Affected by the Fires
The California Fire Foundation has a Supplying Aid to Victims of Emergency (SAVE) program that distributes $250 gift cards to eligible persons, to provide the immediate food and other supplies they need. It’s a great way for victims to get immediate relief in the first 24 to 48 hours after a disaster, since participating fire departments are able to reach those stricken in each department’s district right away.
2. Give Cash to Persons Displaced from Their Homes
The United Way of Northern California has given cash grants to survivors of past fires (like the Boles, Carr and Camp fires), in order to directly impact the lives of people who have been rendered homeless. Cash allotments in past years have been used to do things like erect electricity poles on properties where people are living in temporary shelters while rebuilding their homes or buying replacement appliances for homes that are still livable but were greatly impacted by the fires. The plan for the response to the 2020 fires has yet to be announced but expect your money to go to tangible relief efforts thanks to this group.
3. Donate Directly to an Affected Individual on GoFundMe
If you want to know exactly who and what your money is going toward then check out the GoFundMe Wildfire Relief Hub. Here you’ll find individuals who need your help, including a horse rescue ranch that lost all its tack, feed and medicine for 20 horses in the Valley Fire and a 36-weeks-pregnant mom who lost all her soon-to-be-born baby’s clothes and supplies when her family was forced to flee the Lake Fire in the Angeles National Forest. The stories are affecting, and you’ll know you’re really helping someone.
4. Provide Shelter and Food to Displaced Families
The American Red Cross has set up temporary shelters and food sites in areas hit by the fires. Donations to the charity will help provide comfort and necessities to those who’ve been displaced. Either text REDCROSS to 90999 to make a $10 donation or visit the website for more ways to help.
5. Rebuild an Animal Sanctuary
Animal lovers, we dare you not to tear up while reading this account of the Herd and Flock Animal Sanctuary in Vacaville, California (site of the devastating LNU Lightning Complex wildfire). You can adopt one of the small menageries to support its care and feeding or just donate to rebuild facilities.
6. Give Affected Families a Meal
The Food Bank for Monterey County, the area where three major fires burned recently (with one, the Dolan fire, still only 40 percent contained), is accepting donations to provide food for residents. Due to Covid-19 precautions, however, the bank is not accepting prepared food.
7. House a Displaced Person or Relief Worker
Airbnb has an Open Homes program that matches participants with a person in need of housing due to disaster. Have a spare room, a bed or a guest house you’re willing to part with for two or more days? Sign up to be a part of the program, and an individual or a nonprofit that’s assisting individuals will be in touch with you. (P.S. There’s 24/7 customer support and damage insurance from Airbnb, so you are fully supported if you sign up.)
8. Donate to First Responders
Direct Relief provides healthcare resources to first responders fighting fires across California. The organization also maintains an inventory of N-95 masks and respiratory medications that help keep them safe, supplies that are even more in demand than usual in these times of Covid-19.
9. Contribute to the Wildfire Relief Fund
Proceeds to the California Community Foundation Wildfire Relief Fund help support recovery and containment efforts, as well as long-term preparedness.