How to help victims affected by the California wildfires

Thousands of homes have been destroyed since the Camp and Woolsey fires ignited.

November 24, 2018, 5:01 AM

Thousands of people in California are displaced after losing their homes to two fast-moving wildfires that ignited on opposite ends of the state.

The Camp Fire in Northern California has destroyed nearly 19,000 structures, almost 14,000 of them residences, while the Woosley Fire in Southern California has destroyed a total of 1,500 structures, according to the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection.

As officials look to clean up the remnants of the singed neighborhoods and search for hundreds residents who remain unaccounted for, the focus is turning to the thousands who lost everything in the blaze.

The Camp Fire burns in the hills, Nov. 11, 2018 near Oroville, Calif.
Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

Here's how to help the victims of the wildfires:

Donate to the American Red Cross: Donate to the Red Cross fire relief effort on its website.

"There has been an outpouring of support from folks across the country and also in this region and the state," Michael Devulpillieres, Red Cross communication office, told ABC News.

Good Samaritans can also sign up with their local Red Cross as a volunteer, Devulpillieres said.

Go to a shelter and ask workers what's needed: For those in the area willing to help, Devulpillieres recommends visiting a shelter to find out what displaced residents need before showing up with necessities like clothes and canned goos.

"It's best to know what's needed before just showing up and bringing those items over," he said.

Adopt a family on Facebook: A couple from Rocklin County, about a 90-minute drive north of Butte County, created a Facebook group called "Paradise Fire Adopt a Family" to match families in need with those who are able to help them.

Any money donated through the initiative will go directly to the adopted family, Eric Loftholm said in a video posted to the page last weekend, adding, "This isn't about money. Although you might end up contributing some money, this is about loving your neighbor. It's really that simple."

Rocklin County, California, resident Eric Lofholm and his wife, Heather Lofholm, have created an "Adopt a Family" initiative to match victims of the Camp Fire with people who have the resources to help.

There are other ways to help besides donating funds, Heather Loftholm said. One massage therapist decided to offer free massages to stressed evacuees, she said. Another woman, who is a talented baker, is driving to the shelters with pies, cakes, cookies and brownies in tow, Eric Loftholm said.

Another woman told Heather Loftholm that she did not have the ability to donate money, but asked to be matched with a family who has young children around the same age as hers because she has "really good clothes" that her kids have outgrown.

Donate to the Salvation Army: Donate to the Salvation Army. The organization is currently set on in-kind donations, such as canned goods and clothing, so cash donations are what's needed most at the moment, Major Ivan Wilde, divisional commander of the Salvation Army's Del Oro Division, told ABC News.

Wilde also recommended that local volunteers check back with their Salvation Army in a few weeks to see what is needed then.

Residences leveled by the wildfire line a neighborhood in Paradise, Calif., Nov. 15, 2018.
Noah Berger/AP

Support the United Way: The Northern California chapter of the United Way is accepting donations to provide emergency cash and other forms of emergency assistance to those who lost their omes in the Camp Fire.

Donate to Global Giving: ABC Sacramento affiliate KXTV has partnered with HeartThreads, a media company that shares uplifting stories, to raise money for Global Giving's California Wildfire Relief Fund.

The funds will be used to support recovery and relief efforts but will initially help first responders distribute food, fuel, clean water, hygiene products and shelter, according to Global Giving.

Buy items on the Baby2Baby registry: Baby2Baby, an organization that provides basic necessities such as diapers and clothing to low-income children, has started a registry for children's items needed to distribute to displaced families.

Open your home to AirBnB: Volunteers with extra space in their homes can advertise to host evacuees on AirBnB's disaster and relief page.

Donate to the North Valley Community Foundation: Funds donated to the North Valley Community Foundation will support the needs of the evacuation centers housing displaced residents, including portable toilets, portable showers, blankets and energy and water costs, according to its website.

Support Direct Relief: The Santa Barbara-based chapter of humanitarian aid organization Direct Relief is accepting funds to provide N-95 masks, medicine and other resources to healthcare agencies and first responders in the state, according to the website. The organization responds to wildfires on the west coast every year, it said.

Forensic anthropologists Kyra Stull (L) and Tatiana Vlemincq walk through a trailer park destroyed by the Camp Fire in Paradise, Calif., Nov. 17, 2018.
Terray Sylvester/Reuters

Round up while using Lyft: After Lyft activated free transportation to offer free rides in response to the fires in Southern California, Northern California as well as San Francisco, where poor air quality was affected residents, it teamed up with the United Way to offer passengers a chance to "round up" the price of their rides.

Users just need to tap the "donate" option in the menu and fares will be rounded up to the nearest dollar, and the difference will be donated to the United Way.

In addition, until Nov. 26, users in need of rides in Northern California can use the code CAMPRELIEF in Chico, and those in need of rides in Southern California can use the code WOOLSEYRELIEF in the surrounding areas near Thousand Oaks, Ventura and Los Angeles.

Members of the California Army National Guard take a break at they search burned homes for human remains at the Camp Fire, Nov. 15, 2018, in Paradise, Calif.
John Locher/AP

Donate to the Golden Valley Bank: Chico-based Golden Valley Bank will create sub accounts within its foundation for businesses, employees, individuals and group to accept contributions and self-direct funding for fire relief, it wrote on its web site.

"As an example, many businesses have employees or customers who are affected by the fire and may want to raise funds to assist those employees or customers in their recovery effort," the website states. "The GVB Foundation will create a special account for those funds and distribute them as directed to provide targeted relief where every dollar will directly benefit those affected."

The foundation will create the accounts to accept donations and disburse funds at the direction of the group or individuals who establish the account, the bank said.

Donate to Caring Choices: Caring Choices, Northern California's Emergency Volunteer Center, is accepting donations to "aid those in need," according to its website.

Support the California Community Foundation: The Wildlfire Relief Fund by the California Community Foundation will support relief and recovery efforts in the aftermath of the fires, the organization said on its website.

In the past, rants from the fund have supported those who have been displaced, their belongings and or their jobs due to wildfires. It also helps to rebuild homes, provide case management services, basic need assistance, mental health services and financial assistance, according to the site.

Firefighters battle the Woolsey Fire as it continues to burn in Malibu, Calif., Nov. 11, 2018.
Eric Thayer/Reuters

Donate to the Los Angeles Fire Department Foundation: The foundation that supports the Los Angeles Fire Department "provides vital private funding for the LAFD where the city's budget ends," according to its website. Funds donated to the foundation will go toward equipment and supplies, training and outreach and youth programs, the site says.

Support the Entertainment Industry Foundation: The Los Angeles-based Entertainment Industry Foundation is accepting funds to "support firefighters and fire responders who risk their lives to protect the people of California," it said on its website.