Tens of thousands of people have been affected by the nine blazing fires in the North Bay. As of this writing, the North Bay fires are the third most destructive blazes in California's history with over 2,000 buildings damaged or destroyed, over 105,000 acres burned and more than 20,000 people evacuated. As the fires continue to rage, fueled by low humidity and high winds, these numbers are sure to climb.
It is in times like this that we see people come together, donating money, time, goods and more to those in need. We have gathered a variety of information on the ways you can assist those affected as well as the first responders who've been battling the blazes since they erupted Sunday night.
How can you help?
The two main needs at this time are gift cards and monetary donations. Most charities prefer monetary donations, especially if you do not live near the affected area. These are more flexible and don't involve transportation or shipping. We have listed a number of ways you can help below but encourage you to contact the specific organization to find out the best way you can help.
The Petaluma Mothers' Club is collecting gift cards for those in the Sonoma area who have been affected by the fire.
Purchase $25 gift cards from a variety of stores such as Target, Safeway, Kohl's, Bed, Bath & Beyond and others that would be beneficial to provide clothing, food, and other needed supplies. Stores like Safeway, CVS and others have kiosks with a variety of gift cards.
The Petaluma Mothers' Club will make sure they get to the families in need. You can send them electronically to firstname.lastname@example.org or mail them to Petaluma Mothers' Club, PO Box 521, Petaluma, CA 94953. They will be collecting the cards until October 31st.
Open your Airbnb home to those displaced by or fighting the fires.
Airbnb has a disaster relief program that allows hosts to sign up to house evacuees and relief workers. Click here for more information on how to participate.
Donate to the Bay Area Red Cross
The Red Cross is one of the 'first responders' during any natural disaster, providing food, shelter and medical services. In addition to initial response, the Red Cross focuses on helping communities recover. You can help by donating money or goods, volunteering your time to assist with check-in and supply distribution or give blood (go to your local Red Cross or watch for blood drives in your area.)
You can also text REDCROSS to 90999 to give $10 to American Red Cross Disaster Relief. The $10 will be added to your wireless bill.
For those wishing to become part of the volunteer network, call 707-543-4542 or or go in person to Elsie Allen High School (599 Bellevue Ave, Santa Rosa) or Cook Middle School (2480 Sebastopol Rd., Santa Rosa).
There are also a multitude of GoFundMe pages as well as other organizations to which you can donate. It is always best to be certain your funds will be used to help the specific cause to which you are donating before giving any funds.
According to ABC7 News, The Center for International Disaster Information recommends checking with a charity monitoring organization like GiveWell, Charity Navigator, Charity Watch, or the Better Business Bureau before donating.
Make sure your donation is secure by going through an organization's official website or sending a check in the mail. Charity Navigator says you should never donate over the phone, email or unknown social media pages, as these are easier for scammers to target.
Purge Your Pantry
Either donate canned and unopened prepacked foods you already have on hand or head to the grocery store and buy food to donate to local food banks.
- Food pantries of Sonoma County, various locations, sonoma.networkofcare.org
- Food pantries of Napa County, various locations, foodpantries.org
- Food pantries of Yuba County, various locations, sutter.networkofcare.org
Give to the Humane Society & SPCA
Many animals have also been affected by the North Bay fires. The below organizations are in need of people willing to volunteer their time as well as make monetary donations, give extra bags of dog and cat food, carriers, food bowls, collars, leashes, cat litter/trays and more. These donations will help them in accommodating animals that need shelter and other aid.
- Humane Society of Sonoma County, 5345 CA-12. (Santa Rosa), sonomahumane.org
- Humane Society of Napa County, 3265 California Blvd. (Napa), napahumane.org
- Yuba-Sutter SPCA, 745 Sutter St. (Yuba), yubasutterspca.org
Help The Helpers
Bring a homecooked meal or other necessities to the men and women battling the fires. Many of the fighter fighters and other emergency personnel need food and miscellaneous supplies.
Call the appropriate non-emergency numbers to get a grasp on what they need.
- Fire Departments of Sonoma County, sonomacountry.org
- Fire Department of Napa County, countyofnapa.org
- Fire Departments of Yuba County, yubacity.org
Below is a list of crucial items that many of those affected need right now. Many of these can be brought directly to shelters (contact the shelter in advance to find out how you can best assist). And, if you can volunteer your time, many of the shelters can use the assistance.
Needed supplies (most organizations prefer monetary donations so it is best to call to find out how to best assist):
- Air mattresses
- New pillows & bedding
- Phone chargers
- Duct tape
- Latex gloves
- Personal hygiene products-feminine supplies, deodorant, soap, etc.
- First aid supplies-bandaids, antibiotic ointment, etc.
- Baby items-formula, carriers, wipes, baby food, children's books, crayons, small toys, coloring books
- Under garments for men and women-new socks, underwear, t-shirts, etc.
- Nonperishable food items and drinks
List of shelters
- Veterans Memorial Building and Hall, 1351 Maple Ave. (Santa Rosa), sonomacountry.ca.gov
- Petaluma Community Center, 320 N. McDowell Blvd. (Petaluma), cityofpetaluma.net
- Sonoma County Fairgrounds (open for large- and medium-sized livestock and farm animals), access via Gate 7 on Aston Ave. (Sonoma), sonomacountyfiar.com
- Ramekins Culinary School and Inn, 450 W. Spain St. (Sonoma), remekins.com
- Sonoma-Marin Fairgrounds (open to accommodate small livestock and other farm animals, access via Gate 4 on 175 Fairgrounds Dr (Petaluma), sonoma-maringfair.org
- Crosswalk Church (currently at capacity), 2590 1st St. (Napa), crosswalknapa.org
- Napa Valley College Gym (currently at volunteer cap, 2277 Napa Vallejo Hwy. (Napa), napavalley.edu
Our hearts go out to all those impacted by these devastating wild fires. If we all pull together, we can make a difference during this time of need.