How You Can Help Victims Of The Devastating California Wildfires Right Now
Ongoing wildfires in Northern California have left at least 23 people dead, according to CNN's latest report, and at least 285 people remain missing. An estimated 23 major wildfires are burning across five counties, impacting approximately 170,000 acres — predominantly in wine country. Roughly 3,500 homes and businesses have been have been destroyed, and at least 20,000 people have had to evacuate the area. Napa County has canceled school for the rest of the week, and smoke from the fires has drifted all the way down to San Francisco's southern suburbs. If you want — and are able — to help victims of the Northern California wildfires, donations and volunteers are urgently needed.
If you don't live in Northern California but want to help from afar, the following businesses and organizations are all accepting donations online or by mail:
- The Napa Valley Community Foundation's Disaster Relief Fund was launched in 2014 following an earthquake in the region. The foundation is now accepting donations as part of its fire relief efforts.
- United Way of the Wine Country is redirecting all donations made on its site to area fire relief.
- Jameson Animal Rescue Ranch is soliciting donations to provide Napa County residents with pet food, emergency medical attention, and more to ensure that that they won't have to give up their pets.
- Wine Country Animal Lovers is also accepting donations to help animals in Napa Valley. Donations can be made either directly through the site or through the group's Amazon wish list.
- The Center for Volunteer & Nonprofit Leadership is looking for volunteers to assist in emergency fire relief, but if you are not located in the region, you can also make a donation online to help people affected by the fires.
You can also make donations at the following GoFundMe and YouCaring links. According to NBC, GoFundMe collects 5 percent of the total amount of money raised while also imposing a transaction charge. YouCaring, meanwhile, does not collect any of the money raised but still charges a transaction fee. Here are a few donation links that have either been vetted by the websites on which they appear or otherwise protected by the websites' guarantee policies:
- Napa and Sonoma County Fire Relief, by winery owner Jake Kloberdanz
- Individual and family funds listed on GoFundMe's California fire relief page
- Tubbs Fire Victims — Santa Rosa Community, by Santa Rosa Chief Financial Officer Deborah Lauchner
If you do live in Northern California, the following local businesses are conducting supply drop-offs. Each link below redirects to a list of supplies accepted at each location:
- Love on Haight: 1400 Haight St., San Francisco
- Tutto Capelli Salon: 1220 Arroyo Ave. in San Carlos
- 1-2-3-4 Go! Records: 420 40th St. #5 in Oakland
- RYSE Center: 205 41st St. in Richmond
- Del Cielo Brewing Co. (starting on Sunday): 701 Escobar St., Ste A in Martinez
- Liholiho Yacht Club: 871 Sutter St. in San Francisco
Additionally, numerous food pantries, shelters, schools, and other organizations are seeking volunteers as well as donations of clothes, blankets, pillows, underwear, baby formula, and more. ABC7 has published this comprehensive list of locations currently accepting donations.
If you live in Northern California but are unable to make a donation or volunteer, you can also participate in Airbnb's Open Homes program. Through this program, which was launched in 2012, Airbnb hosts can open their homes for free to fire evacuees and relief workers through Oct. 30. You can also open your home to animals: Milo Foundation, a Point Richmond-based animal rescue group, is asking people to take one of the approximately 200 animals it had to evacuate from its Willits shelter.
A combination of strong winds and dry conditions have rendered the Northern California wildfires particularly devastating, and firefighters — many of whom are incarcerated women making $1 an hour — are working day and night to combat the flames. Any donation of money, supplies, time, or shelter will therefore go a long way, and even if you do not currently have the necessary resources at this time, generating awareness is equally important.