10 Ways to Help California’s Wildfires
Resources and links to help wildfire victims, for those locally based and far away.
More than two dozen wildfires are currently blazing across California, marking it as the worst year for the state’s wildfires on record. Some have been burning since August, and while wildfire season doesn’t end until October, hefty damage has already been leveraged: there have so far been at least 10 deaths and over 2 million acres of scorched land, a striking figure especially in comparison to the five-year average of 300,000 scorched acres.
With the unprecedented fires igniting across the West Coast, the country is mobilizing to help California. Here are 10 ways to help state residents through wildfire season.
A huge number of charities, relief funds, and organizations are accepting donations to help with the wildfires. If you are financially able, you can send monetary relief to the California Fire Foundation’s Supplying Aid to Victims of Emergency (SAVE) program to help victims, to the Greater Bay Area Central Coast Wildfire Relief fund to assist recovery for local residents, or the California Wildfires Recovery Fund to help communities recover from wildfires.
The American Red Cross is raising funds to support victims, while the California Fire Foundation supports families of firefighters who have given their lives to assist their communities. Direct Relief is replicating their efforts from the Australian bushfires to distribute masks across California, and you can donate to their efforts here.
More volunteer opportunities can be found at California Volunteers.
3. Raise awareness.
Even if you are unable to support wildfire relief by donating time or money, there’s an easy way everybody can help: simply by spreading the word. Reposting informational posts on social media can bring it to the attention of followers on your platform (no matter how few or many you may have—there’s always a chance you’re circulating new information to at least one person!) and increase the number of helping hands to take action.
4. Contact representatives.
If you’re in the US, you can contact elected officials about action for the climate crisis, which has caused wildfires in California and elsewhere. This list of elected officials will tell you how to get in touch with your federal, state, and local leaders.
5. Use Ecosia for online searches.
Ecosia is a great search engine tool which uses its profits to plant trees—both refurbishing scorched land and reducing the CO2 load on the planet. It’s a quick, simple, free way to help and can be added to Google Chrome as an extension.
6. Open your home.
If you’re in an area where you can provide shelter to those affected by the wildfires, a roof to sleep under can go a long way—especially for those who have lost their homes. AirBnb is asking Butte County residents to open their homes to wildfire evacuees as they figure out longterm housing. More information is available here for those in Butte County, and here for those in neighboring California counties.
7. Send food.
If you can contribute food to those fighting the wildfires and those affected by them, the Salvation Army Ventura Corps is collecting food items for individuals in Southern California.
8. Foster a pet.
Evacuees displaced by the wildfires are not only humans, but furry friends, too. Many pets are separated from their owners in times of crisis like this, whether it be accidental separation or separation required by circumstance, such as temporary housing situations or lack of shelter and adequate care.
The LA Animal Service department is calling for locals to foster and adopt animals on their Facebook page; to those based outside of California, monetary donations and supplies for the shelters are welcome, and can be found on Wish List pages such as the one for SPCAla.
9. Share resources.
While spreading awareness about the wildfires is vital, so is actually circulating direct links, relief funds, and organizations to donate to. Send your friends article links on ways they can help, retweet GoFundMe pages when you come across them, and let your pals in California know when you see a resource that could help them!
Resources aren’t limited to organizations and foundations, either. Anything that could help is worthy of circulation, from contacts who could provide food or shelter to mental health resources for those in distress. Mental Health America has compiled a list of phone numbers for aid; those in the US can call Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 or the Disaster Distress Helpline at 1-800-985-5990.
Remember: the more eyes a resource gets, the more chances it can help someone in need.
10. Stay up to date.
Keeping up with wildfire updates can mean knowing when certain organizations have reached donation capacity and are asking donors to redirect efforts to those still struggling to reach their goals. If you’re planning on making a donation, double check their page to make sure they are still collecting—if they aren’t, your donation could be appreciated elsewhere!