Three wildfires in California have displaced hundreds of thousands of people and destroyed thousands of homes. So far, 31 people have died.
As of Monday, 177 square miles had been burned by the fire in the northern part of the state, called the Camp Fire. It has turned into the most destructive in the state’s history and one of the most deadly. Another 143 square miles have been scorched in Southern California by the two fires called the Woolsey and Hill fires.
Here’s how you can help.
Research before you donate
Remember to do your research on a charity’s reputation for using donations effectively. Charity Navigator is a good source to consult.
Also, remember that sending money is almost always the most efficient way to help in a disaster, according to the Center for International Disaster Information, part of the U.S. Agency for International Development.
If volunteers on the ground end up with a mountain of donated goods, they’ll have to spend time sorting through them rather than buying exactly what’s needed.
Nonprofits seeking donations
California Community Foundation’s Wildfire Relief Fund: For 15 years, the foundation has offered aid to those affected by wildfires. Grants have gone to rebuilding homes, providing financial and mental health assistance and helping those affected to get medical treatment.
California Fire Foundation: This organization is on the ground distributing financial assistance to people who have lost everything in the fires. Through its emergency assistance program, firefighters distribute pre-paid gift cards to help those who need to purchase necessities like food, medicine and clothing.
Caring Choices: This nonprofit, which is in Chico, Calif., has turned into a hub for organizing volunteers to help those affected by the Camp Fire. Volunteers are assigned a variety of duties, including caring for displaced animals and, for those who are certified doctors or nurses, offering medical care.
Enloe Medical Center: This 298-bed hospital is in Chico, the site of multiple evacuation centers for the Camp Fire. It is accepting donations for patients and families who have been displaced.
Entertainment Industry Foundation: This nonprofit, started by Hollywood stars, has a fund that helps firefighters and other emergency workers battling California wildfires. One of its beneficiaries is the Los Angeles Fire Department Foundation, which provides hydration backpacks and night vision goggles for helicopter pilots. Another beneficiary provides meals for emergency workers and evacuees staying in shelters.
Humane Society of Ventura County: This nonprofit is accepting donations to help animals displaced by the Woolsey and Hill Fires. It is taking in domestic animals, such as dogs, cats and birds, as well as livestock.
North Valley Community Foundation: This nonprofit in Chico is raising money to support organizations that are sheltering evacuees of the Camp Fire. These could include churches, fairgrounds and community centers, said Logan Todd, a foundation spokesman.
Salvation Army: At both ends of the state, the Salvation Army is providing meals to shelters in local churches, fairgrounds and a community college.
United Way of Greater Los Angeles: This local branch of the national organization is raising money for those affected by the Woolsey and Hill Fires, specifically to help low-income residents.
Crowdfunding as a way to help
There are multiple crowdfunding efforts for victims of the California fires. GoFundMe has organized a page that catalogs the relief efforts in Northern and Southern California. It includes links to donate to families who have lost their homes.
Google is collecting donations to help those affected by the wildfires in Southern California. It will funnel the donations to the Center for Disaster Philanthropy, which will distribute the money to local nonprofits.
Additionally, Airbnb has launched a program that asks people to open their homes to those affected by the fires. Until Nov. 29, the company is allowing residents to mark their homes as a place for evacuees and aid workers to stay for free.
Information from The Associated Press was included in this story.