How to Help Victims of California Wild Fires

In California, it’s hard to concentrate on anything but how to help the victims of our record-breaking wildfires. The usual images we share of beach days and vacations have been replaced by images of angry flames and orange skies. Even those of us in safe areas are trapped inside because of the smoke.

As you know, California wildfires are nothing new. We average 300,000 acres of fire damage per year. But, this year, we’ve lost a heartbreaking 3.3 million acres-and fire season has barely begun. Consequently, millions have been lost in structural damage; most importantly, lives have been lost. Our exhausted firefighters complete grueling 12-hour shifts while ordinary people brave the flames to save family members. Our hearts ache. We want to help, but we don’t know where to start.

California averages 300,000 acres of fire damage per year. This year we we’ve lost 3.2 million acres already.

Fortunately, Californians help each other during times of crisis. If you’d like to help, I’ve listed some assistance programs below.


Beware of swindlers during these times of crisis. Before making any donations, check a site like Charity Navigator for information. I’ve listed Charity Navigator’s rating with each program below.

6 Ways to Help Victims of California Wildfires

1. American Red Cross

Charity Navigator Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️ (3/4 stars)

Let’s start with the American Red Cross, which helps communities to prepare for and recover from wildfires. This means providing food, shelter and emotional support for those caught in impacted areas. It also includes education on wildfire safety and what to do in case of evacuation. So, fire victims are given immediate relief and neighborhoods are taught what to do in case of emergency.

If you’d like to help fire victims in your state, send a check specifying California Wildfires. But, if that sounds way too complicated, simply text CAWILDFIRES to 90999 to make a $10 donation to benefit the victims in California.

Since 90% of the Red Cross’s work force are volunteers, they need your help. So, if you find yourself out of work, consider lending a helping hand. You can get all of the info you need by clicking here.

2. California Fire Foundation

Charity Navigator Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️ (3/4 stars)

Second on our list is the California Fire Foundation, founded in 1987 to assist firefighters, their families and their communities. CFF participates in several programs offering support for those most vulnerable in times of crisis. In addition, they make sure to look after their fellow firefighters. Examples of their efforts are listed below.

Projects Listed in the CFF mission statement:

  • Present a memorial commemorating fallen firefighters
  • Offer emotional support to the families of fallen firefighters
  • Similarly, provide educational support to children of firefighters, including educational endowments
  • Extend emergency relief for victims of fires so that they can purchase basic necessities through the Supplying Aid to Victims of Emergency program
  • Educate communities on fire safety

In short, CFF helps communities in ways that only firefighters would think of. The result is hope and healing for fire-impacted areas.

3. Direct Relief

Charity Navigator Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ (4/4 stars)

Our third program is Direct Relief. In times of crisis, emergency medical equipment is needed for injuries and replacement medications are needed for those left at home during evacuations. Direct Relief provides this equipment and supplies to health facilities. For example, a Direct Relief Wildfire Kits can treat up to 250 for up to 5 days. Other assistance includes:

  • Life-saving medications for fire victims with pre-existing medical conditions like diabetes or asthma
  • Respiratory equipment for smoke inhalation
  • N95 masks and personal protective equipment for medical professionals
  • First aid supplies
  • Diagnostic equipment

As a result of this historic wildfire crisis, Direct Relief has provided 19 shipments of aid and will provide more as needed.

In times of crisis, emergency medical equipment is needed both for injuries
and to replace medications left at home during evacuations

4. Center for Disaster Philanthropy

Charity Navigator Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ (4/4 stars)

The next program, the Center for Disaster Philanthropy (CDP) helps those in need to rebuild and recover their lives after a crisis. Since evacuating and running for shelter is just the beginning of the recovery journey, CDP helps survivors recover their lives. Since its inception, the CDP has awarded over $3 million to help communities heal.

  • Follow destructive fires and the vulnerable communities
  • Identify communities with scarce resources
  • Award grants to local community groups
  • Connect donors and support relationships

5. United Way Northern California

Charity Navigator Rating: Not rated. Charity Navigator only rates charities with 1 million or more in annual revenue. However, United Way Northern California has been vetted by Global Giving as a trusted partner.

Next, the United Way of Northern California or UWNC, provides immediate relief by delivering essential supplies to wildfire survivors. UWNC also provides grants for long-term assistance. The grants provide needed funds for shelter and clothing. As a result, survivors are able to continue the journey to recovery.

6. Global Giving California Wildfire Relief Fund

Charity Navigator Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ (4/4 stars)

Lastly, Global Giving California Wildfire Relief Fund helps provide wildfire survivors with immediate needs like clean water, food, shelter and fuel. By connecting vetted non-profits and companies, Global Giving provides training for communities to become more effective at providing relief and recovery.

Don’t Forget our Furry Friends

Don’t forget our furry friends during a crisis. Many are missing or hurt and need your help. For instance, foster or adopt evacuated pets, volunteer for a shift at an animal shelter, provide food and blankets, or donate to a trusted animal rehoming program. Times of crisis cause extreme stress on animals. We must help them as much as possible.

Keep Covid-19 in Mind

If you feel inspired to volunteer your time at a local shelter or program, keep Covid-19 in mind. Remember, you may be asked to wear protective equipment, especially if you are near compromised fire victims. More than anything else, be kind to those you encounter. After all, each of us is experiencing the Covid Blues.

The pandemic already has us wound up and isolated. Help your community get back to their real lives. Begin the healing process with a kind word or a smile.

I’ll sum it up with this-you can help the wildfire victims by giving to one of these programs. If you are not in a position to donate financially, give the gift of your time. If we all work together, healing is possible! We are all better when we stick together.

Published by Michelle Kratzer

I like to write. I love the ocean. I live for babies and dogs and giggles.

3 thoughts on “How to Help Victims of California Wild Fires

  1. What a great post, in content and presentation! I like how Michelle includes Charity Navigator information — so important in making choices about our giving. I love the focus on finding a way to be of service during these times. It strikes me that we all need to step outside of ourselves — loving and serving others — and thereby finding deep meaning and great joy. And this post gives us practical help and inspiration to do just that! Well done, Michelle!

    1. Thank you. That means so much. A lot of research went into it but I keep hearing people ask how they can help, so I thought it might be useful. Or, being of service as my friend would say!

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