Here's How to Donate to California Wildfire Relief Efforts

By Etan Vlessing 11/13/18 |

photo credit: Wildfire Relief Fund
As three major wildfires – Camp, Woolsey, and Hill – devastate communities up and down California, the race to help those evacuated get financial help to rebuild their lives and homes has only begun.

If you're considering supporting Californians displaced or who lost a house or business while emergency crews fight to contain and extinguish the blazes, beware of disaster relief scams.

To avoid the charity fraudsters, consider giving to the California Community Foundation's Wildfire Relief Fund.

The CCF, a 103 year-old charitable foundation, launched the Wildfire Relief Fund in 2003 and has handed out over $5 million to support forest fire relief and recovery efforts in the U.S. state.

Overall, the CCF as a public, charitable organizationoversees $1.5 billion in assets and manages 1,600 charitable foundations, funds and legacies as it looks to support the disadvantaged in and around Los Angeles and campaign for social change. 

Earlier supporters of the CCF's Wildfire Relief Fund include Warner Bros. and The Ellen DeGeneres Show awarding $500,000 to the foundation in 2007 to assist Californians, including firefighters, impacted by earlier wildfires.

More recently, the CCF has backed agricultural lenderAmerican AgCreditas it looks to assist its own California employees impacted by ongoing catastrophic wildfires.

American AgCredit said it will double match every employee donation, with the CCF's involvement making them tax deductible.

With tinder-dry forest conditions in California making the fire season a year-round affair, Blue Shield of Californiahas a similar disaster reliefcharitable fund established at the CCF to provide short-term, immediate financial relief to employees having faced an  unforeseen natural disaster. 

Long-term recovery is the key as grants from the CCF's Wildfire Relief Fund supports people who have lost belongings, employment, or endured medical or mental health issues.

"The immediate needs of those affected by the wildfires are great, and the recovery process will be long and difficult in communities throughout the state," the CCF says on its website.

The foundation has also created dual wlldfire relief funds for northern and southern California to target efforts.

"In Los Angeles and Ventura Counties, the Hill and Woolsey fires have set more than 100,000 acres ablaze, killing two and forcing close to 300,000 from their homes as mandatory evacuations were declared from Mailbu to Simi Valley. Both fires are spreading rapidly. As of November 12, the Woolsey Fire was 20% contained, while the Hill fire was 75% contained," the CCF said on Nov. 12 as part southern California wildfire relief update.

"In Butte County, the Camp Fire is now the most destructive fire in recent California history," the CCF added about northern California.

"So far, it (Camp Fire) has burned 113,000 acres, killing 23 and destroying more than 6,700 structures. The fire has forced 200,000 residents from their homes and left most of the town of Paradise in ruins. As of November 12, the fire was 25% contained," it added.

The CCF, founded in 1915 to enable donors to give to nonprofits through one foundation that manages grants, also targets on the ground relief efforts.

That includes assisting California wildfire victims with follow-up medical care and supplies, or offering respiratory equipment and information to people with lung diseases, teaching homeowners environmentally-friendly housebuilding preparing for future disasters.

The CCF says it vets all recommended nonprofits to ensure that donors can get the biggest bang with their gifts.

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