2017 has been a year of devastating natural disasters for many parts of the United States. Less than a month ago, hurricanes were in the news for their fatal impact on the South. Today, there are dozens of wildfires ravaging California and making it impossible for some to leave their houses. The air pollution is terrible, and firefighters are struggling to contain the flames and stop new ones from breaking out. Amidst all the commotion, more than 26 people have died and hundreds are missing. People all around the country are wondering: what can I do to help?
The first thing you can do is help to spread awareness about the wildfires. Many people are just coming down from the news of the hurricanes, so they may be unaware of just how debilitating the wildfires have become. Encourage the people you know to do their research and become involved. You can post on social media or have conversations in your day-to-day life to let people know what’s happening.
The next thing you can do is donate. If you would like to donate quickly, you can donate directly to victims on GoFundMe. There, you can find projects ranging from businesses to families. You can also take the time to look through other charities and determine which ones may use your money best. Direct Relief is a standard victim-relief charity that will provide basic necessities to those affected by the wildfires. Sandwiches for Sonoma County Firefighters is a unique charity that offers delicious food to the brave individuals who are putting their lives on the line to stop the fires from spreading across new areas.
Another opportunity you have is to fundraise through your community. You can ask for donations at work, church, social gatherings, and other places. Reach out to local businesses to see if they’re willing to host a charity night. However, it is suggested that you have a plan for where you will donate this money before you begin asking people. When people have a tangible charity that needs their money, they will be more likely to trust that their money is being put to good use.
There are also many other ways you can donate. If you would rather send supplies instead of money, you can donate clothing, baby food, medical supplies, and more to Love on Haight or RYSE Center. Animals need your help as well, and the Jameson Animal Rescue Ranch is currently accepting donations. You can also volunteer your time with Napa Community Animal Response Team, or open your home to foster pets through the Sonoma Humane Society.
Finally, one of the most practical ways you can help displaced individuals is by providing a safe home for evacuees through Airbnb. The company has set up a site specifically designed to connect evacuated people with hosts who are willing to let them stay for free. This is a huge help, because many people have lost their homes and charities do not have the ability to help everyone on their own. If you’re in unaffected parts of California, please consider looking into this option.
This year has proven just how much good can come from a community of people banding together to help victims of disasters. Although the wildfires are not over, you can still make a difference, and hopefully help bring the destruction to a quick end.