Fire ravaged multiple corners of California yet again this year. In the aftermath, families find themselves displaced, frightened, anguished over losses, and grateful to be alive. From Santa Rosa to Gilroy, from San Rafael to Napa, and from Redding to Modesto, vicious flames have attacked mercilessly, aided by high winds and low humidity. The trauma of this devastating natural disaster to families and communities cannot be understated, making it incumbent on the rest of us to do what we can to provide support and assistance in any way we can. In the face of such horrendous loss, what can we do to help?
What is Needed?
The immediate needs for families who have been impacted by this year’s fires are wide-ranging, including:
- Physical and emotional support during the evacuation process;
- Temporary shelters;
- Food and basic hygiene supplies;
- Information about family/friends, and assistance in reuniting with loved ones;
- Health care, including prescription maintenance;
- Opportunities for children to continue schooling;
- Assistance related to family pets and livestock;
- Individual case management.
The long-term needs for victims of natural disasters can be more complex:
- Assistance rebuilding or finding completely new housing;
- Opportunities to earn a living;
- Additional assistance for the most vulnerable.
While many onlookers may wish to donate clothing, household supplies, hygiene kits, food and water, the fact of the matter is that cash donations are much more useful. While well intended, physical items can add to the logistical problems being faced by firefighters and those trying to escape danger. Volunteers become overwhelmed with sorting and apportioning goods, rather than more efficiently making purchases of specific items that are needed and spending time working with victims.
That being said, well-meaning fire relief donors should be careful to choose the right charity to direct their funds. Unfortunately, there are still a lot of scams out there, so doing your homework will pay off. One idea might be to check out Charity Navigator as you contemplate ways to contribute. Otherwise, there are well-known national organizations such as the American Red Cross, the United Way, and the Salvation Army, who can reliably be entrusted with your donation dollars. Local organizations such as the Community Foundation Sonoma County in Santa Rosa and Direct Relief in Goleta are also excellent establishments that can be counted on to administer your fire relief donation to efficiently assist with local efforts. Support the LAFD is one of many organizations set up to assist firefighters and provide essential equipment and materials. Continue reading →