How to help victims of the Southern California wildfires
The fires consuming parts of Southern California have moved rapidly since breaking out a few days ago. The Thomas Fire, a blaze in Ventura County, has already claimed 90,000 acres. The fires have collectively led to the evacuation of more than 200,000 residents, according to news reports.
There are numerous efforts underway to aid survivors, who may have fled wearing only the clothes on their backs and may not know the fate of their homes for days. By Wednesday, the Red Cross had opened seven shelters to provide refuge for survivors in Ventura and Los Angeles Counties.
If you’d like to contribute to the rescue and recovery efforts, consider the following initiatives:
1. Support the United Way of Ventura County.
This United Way chapter has partnered with the American Red Cross of Ventura County and the Ventura County Sheriff’s Office of Emergency Services to respond to the disaster effectively. It also created the Thomas Fire Fund, which is collecting donations online, by phone at 805-485-6288, and via text (type UWVC to 41444). Checks may be sent to the United Way office at 702 County Square Drive, Suite 100, Ventura, California, 93003. (Write “Thomas Fire Fund” in the memo section.)
All donations will support those affected by the fire.
2. Support the Los Angeles Fire Department Foundation.
The LAFD Foundation has requested contributions to help keep more than 250 firefighters battling the fires safe. The foundation collects money to cover costs that the fire department can’t always afford. Those include things like brush helmets, custom flashlights, veterinary care, and night-vision capability.
You can donate here.
3. Support the Humane Society of Ventura County.
The Humane Society of Ventura County has taken in dozens of animals since the fires began. Contributions will help support the care of horses, goats, donkeys, alpacas, chickens, cats, dogs, and rabbits. The shelter has also asked for feed for large animals, temporary bedding for staff and volunteers, human food, and items like paper towels, batteries, and battery operated lanterns.
4. Use Facebook’s Crisis Response tool to donate or give and find help.
Facebook users are leveraging the platform to both donate money via GlobalGiving, a nonprofit organization that provides grants and funding for local and reputable nonprofits affected by the fires.
Users are also crowdsourcing offers and requests for help that include clothes, shelter, and transportation.
5. Donate via Google.
If you search for “Southern California fires donation” in Google, the top of your results should include a pop-up prompt to make a donation for the Ventura County Fires. Google partnered with the Center for Disaster Philanthropy, a nonprofit organization that helps direct financial contributions to local nonprofits in the affected area.
The entire donation goes to the nonprofits, and you don’t need a Google account to make a contribution. To learn more about Google donation program, click here.
Editor’s note: This list may be updated as more initiatives become official.