Whether you're near the Southern California wildfires and worried about your own safety and property or you're watching the disaster unfold from afar, it's understandable to feel helpless in the face of blazes that are so extreme. But you actually can make a difference right now, and one of the best ways is to donate to victims of these California wildfires.
After fires ravaged Northern California in October, the subsequent outpouring of donations helped launch crucial relief efforts. Millions of dollars alone were raised by undertakings like Band Together Bay Area, a benefit concert that raised funds for low income victims of the fires. Northern California is still recovering and continues to need assistance; check out projects like UndocuFund, which helps undocumented victims, for example.
Now it's Southern California that particularly needs your attention. Almost 200,000 people have evacuated, over 300 schools have been closed, major freeways are shut down, more than 300 buildings have been destroyed, and upwards of 100,000 acres have burned.
"I’ve got to be honest, we’re concerned about everything," Assistant Los Angeles Fire Chief Armando Hogan told The New York Times.
There's no time to waste. Here are some of the items that are most needed right now.
Money is probably the single most important thing you can donate, because shelters can sometimes run out of space for physical donations in times of crisis. You have plenty of options here; there's no shortage of organizations needing cash donations.
The Thomas Fire Fund helps victims of the eponymous fire, which is currently the largest of the Southern California blazes, having scorched 96,000 acres as of Thursday morning. To donate, you can go online, call 805-485-6288, text UWVC to 41444, or send checks to 702 County Square Drive, Suite 100 Ventura, CA 93003 (write "Thomas Fire Fund" in the memo line).
The aid organization Direct Relief has been delivering respiratory supplies and medicines to care facilities. To fund their efforts, go online here, choose "Direct my donation to" and then select "Southern California Wildfires."
Check out these verified GoFundMe campaigns that help individuals and families who have been affected by the fires.
The Red Cross of Los Angeles and Salvation Army are taking donations online and over the phone. Contact the Cross at 1-800-RED-CROSS or by going online here. Contact the Salvation Army at 1-800-SAL-ARMY or by going online here.
The organization Catholic Charities will donate clothing that is in good condition to victims of the fire. It intends to give the items as Christmas presents (and will accept toys, too). Bring donations to its Ventura Community Services Center at 303 N. Ventura Ave., Ventura, CA 93001.
Food And Water
Both food and water donations are being accepted by the Salvation Army. Deliver these supplies in person at the Ventura County Fairgrounds at 10 W. Harbor Blvd: Hundreds of people have taken shelter there.
There are many ways you can support shelter facilities. The aforementioned Ventura County Fairgrounds is just one of several evacuation sites that are currently helping victims. Many have been set up by the Red Cross, including Nordhoff High School, Oxnard College, the UCSB Recreation Center, and the Sylmar Recreation Center.
It's not just humans, but also pets who need your assistance right now. The Humane Society of Ventura County is accepting donations of items like flashlights, headlamps, lanterns, power generators, bottled water, hoses, water troughs, cat and rabbit food, and bales of Alfalfa/Timothy/Oat hay, all of which can be brought to directly to the society at 402 Bryant St. in the town of Ojai.