Ongoing wildfires in western U.S. states including California, Oregon and Washington have burned thousands of homes and are responsible for dozens of deaths, leaving many evacuees in need of help.
More than 220,000 people have evacuated across California, Oregon and Washington, according to the Red Cross, while millions of others continue to be exposed to harsh, smoky air conditions caused by particulate matter from the fires.
In a guide to donating amid a disaster, GlobalGiving suggests donating cash, sharing survivors’ stories and supporting local charities, among other tips. The organization said those actions are likely to have a greater impact than rushing to volunteer amid the chaos of a crisis.
Looking ahead, the organization also suggests setting up recurring donations to help support organizations as they prepare to respond to future disasters.
Here are a number of organizations that you can support amid the ongoing wildfire crisis:
As of Monday, the American Red Cross reports providing “nearly 9,000 people with safe refuge from the wildfires in emergency lodgings, including shelters and, in some cases, hotels,” and is offering hot meals and other support at shelters to anyone affected by the wildfires.
The Red Cross says you can help by donating, giving blood or volunteering. The Red Cross offers a simple way to donate: Text “WILDFIRES” to 90999 to make a $10 donation. The Red Cross also has a hotline (800-RED-CROSS) to make donations to.
“Donations enable the Red Cross to prepare for, respond to and help people recover from these disasters,” a release from the Red Cross says. The organization published more details on ways you can donate to relief efforts in specific states on its website.
Red Cross’ Northwest Response Fund
The Red Cross also has a Northwest-specific effort, forming the Northwest Response Fund. A partnership with KGW-TV and KING-TV in Portland and Seattle, respectively, the fund helps victims of the wildfires raging in Oregon and Washington.
All fundraisers are verified by the Trust and Safety team and are backed by the GoFundMe Guarantee, ensuring that all funds go to the right place, a spokeswoman said.
The wildfires are only compounding respiratory problems as the nation continues to battle the COVID-19 pandemic. Smoke from the fires is creating widespread air quality issues and leading to a reported spike in asthma-like symptoms in emergency rooms in some affected areas.
Among its efforts to help combat this problem, Direct Relief says it is purchasing 500,000 KN95 masks to “help address hazardous air quality risks along much of the smoke-blanketed West Coast.”
California Fire Foundation
The California Fire Foundation has disaster relief programs that offer assistance to fire victims, support California’s firefighters and provide longterm wildfire support.
“These programs support critical needs of those touched by natural disaster — from immediate assistance to long-term recovery,” the organization says.
Latino Community Foundation
The Latino Community Foundation’s Wildfire Relief Fund supports Latino-led grassroots organizations in California that provide a variety of support including “emergency translation for Latino and immigrant families.”
Food banks, already overwhelmed by the COVID-19 pandemic, are experiencing even further strain on resources as Nevertheless, food banks in California and Oregon continue to stay open to serve groups affected by economic loss spurred by wildfires and COVID-19.
Entertainment Industry Foundation
The Entertainment Industry Foundation, a charitable arm for assorted entertainment industries in California, has set up a relief fund for firefighters, first responders and their families. The organization has set up multiple funds for firefighters in recent years, including in 2018 when the devastating Camp Fire ravaged California.
Looking to send money to another organization? Charity Navigator has curated a list of highly-rated charities helping wildfire victims. You can also use the site to research other charities before donating.
Contributing: Daniella Medina & Virginia Barreda, Salem Statesman Journal