Over the last several days I have received a number of inquiries regarding donations for victims of the fires ravaging California. Care packages full of teddy bears, canned food and blankets often first come to mind when it comes to disaster relief. But while any donations are helpful, money is often the best way to help fire victims. Cash is best, disaster aid groups say, because it can be spent on what disaster victims need at the moment they need it.
For information on fires currently burning go to Cal Fire’s incident page. You can find details about specific fires including location, acreage burned and evacuation orders and centers.
I’m sure there are other organizations offering help that are not included on the following list. If you know who they are please comment on this post and I’ll add them.
- The Salvation Army has deployed disaster response teams to help evacuees and first responders in Redding, California, where the Carr Fire has has already destroyed hundreds of buildings and threatens thousands more. The organization is collecting monetary donations from the public, which it says will go directly toward relief efforts.
- GoFundMe has created a list of verified campaigns that are raising money for those impacted by the Carr Fire. Donors can send money to help families, residents and firefighters.
- Facebook has launched a crisis response page for those affected by the fires in Northern California. Users can create public posts on the page to request, find or offer help. They also have the option to donate money directly to relief efforts such as GlobalGiving.
- The Shasta Regional Community Foundation is accepting donations for its Community Disaster Relief Fund. The money collected will be funneled to local nonprofits and disaster relief organizations.
- Tri Counties Bank has pledged an initial $25,000 to a Carr Fire Fund 2018 in a verified GoFundMe campaign to help those affected by the fires. Read more about it at www.gofundme.com/tcb-2018-carr-fire-fund.
- The American Red Cross is providing shelter and aid for fire victims in Northern California. Those who want to help the organization can make $10 donations to the Red Cross by texting REDCROSS to 90999 or by visiting its website, redcross.org.
- The Wildfire Firefighter Foundation is accepting donations to help families of firefighters killed in the line of duty and to assist injured firefighters and their families.
- North Coast Opportunities, Inc Donations are now being accepted to support 2018 Fire Survivors in Lake and Mendocino Counties. You may donate online, with any major credit card through PayPal. You may also send or drop-off a check to 413 North State Street, Ukiah CA, 95482.
- The California Community Foundation has created a list of resources to help Southern California residents impacted by the Cranston and Rock fires in San Diego and Riverside counties. People can use the list to support relief organizations and send donations.
- Trinity Cathedral is accepting checks for fire victims. They can be mailed to 2620 Capitol Ave., Sacramento, CA 95816. Mark checks “fire relief.” The church also is accepting online donations at www.episcopalchurchredding.org.
- The Haven Humane Society has evacuated and rescued hundreds of pets and other animals from the Carr Fire. The organization is asking the public for donations, including food and supplies, to further help the animals. A full list of supplies can be found on its Facebook page.
- United Way of Northern California has established the Shasta County Fire Relief Fund to help victims of the Carr Fire. To donate, people can text CARRFIRE to 91999 or visit the organization’s website.
- California Volunteers, a state office that manages volunteer programs in California, has created a list of services and donation options to help victims affected by the Carr, Ferguson, Mendocino Complex and Cranston fires. People can use the list to find information about donations and volunteering.
- Food Banks – Food Banks throughout California can provide relief to families affected by the wildfires by providing them with emergency food assistance at no cost. Locate a food bank in your area.
- Savings Bank is accepting tax deductible monetary donations for the following organizations in response to the fires in Mendocino County and Lake County.
What not to do
During times of disaster, volunteers and officials are often inundated with work. Those wishing to donate can ensure their good intentions don’t lead to more work by following a few guidelines.
- Don’t drop off donations at non-designated locations.
- Follow donation guidelines. The Salvation Army is only able to accept new items. Taking old or used items require sorting and “a lot of manpower that they don’t have right now to make sure (the donations) are safe.”
- Be careful who you donate to. Only give to vetted organizations. Do not give money over the phone if someone cold calls or stops by unexpectedly.
Those who suspect fraud can contact the National Center for Disaster Fraud at 866-720-5721.