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How to Help Victims of the Southern California Wildfires

This one is going to be a little personal.


The first house I lived in when I moved to California was this quaint rural house off Route 150, west of the small town of Ojai in Ventura County. The mountain landscape in the backyard was picturesque, to say the least, with trails that led to vistas overlooking the entire valley.

That house is now smoldering ash.

More than 200,000 people have been forced to flee multiple devastating fire outbreaks in the Los Angeles area and near San Diego. So far, over a hundred thousand acres have burned due to unrelenting Santa Ana winds spreading the towering flames across southern California.

These fires have shut down freeways and forced the evacuation of residents, and the wildfires show no sign of slowing down -- especially as forecasts predict strong winds again this weekend.

Here are ways you can help the people of Ventura, Los Angeles, and San Diego who have lost their homes, and to support those fighting back the flames.

The good people over at Mashable have provided numerous ways we can support those affected by the Southern California wildfires.

Support the United Way of Ventura County.

The Ventura County United Way chapter has partnered with the American Red Cross of Ventura County and the Ventura County Sheriff's Office of Emergency Services in response to the fire disaster. United Way also created the Thomas Fire Fund, which is collecting donations online, by phone at 805-485-6288, and via text (type UWVC to 41444). Checks may be sent to the United Way office at 702 County Square Drive, Suite 100, Ventura, California, 93003 -- write "Thomas Fire Fund" in the memo section.

Those looking for opportunities to volunteer after the fires have been contained can check the chapter's website, Facebook page, and Twitter account.

Support the Los Angeles Fire Department Foundation.

The Los Angeles Fire Department Foundation has requested contributions (donate here) to help keep more than 250 firefighters battling the fires safely. The foundation collects money to cover costs that the fire department can't always afford. Those include things like brush helmets, custom flashlights, veterinary care, and night-vision capability.

Support the Humane Society of Ventura County.

The Humane Society of Ventura County has taken in dozens of animals since the fires began. Contributions will help support the care of horses, goats, donkeys, alpacas, chickens, cats, dogs, and rabbits. The shelter has also asked for feed for large animals, temporary bedding for staff and volunteers, human food, and items like paper towels, batteries, and battery operated lanterns.

If you don't live locally, you can make a financial donation here. You can also monitor the shelter's real-time needs and requests via its Facebook page.

Support the United Way of San Dieg0.

United Way of San Diego County is working with United Way of Greater Los Angeles, which has set up the Southern California Wildfire Fund to help victims. For this fund, 100 percent of the donations collected will support long-term recovery and rebuilding efforts for low-income families affected by the fires.

Donations supporting San Diego County can be made online at www.unitedwayla.org. Checks may be sent to the United Way office at 1150 S. Olive Street, Suite T500, Los Angeles, CA 90015. Please write “SoCal Wildfire Fund” in the memo line.

Support the San Diego Humane Society.

It is asking for bedding, wire crates, dog and cat food and bowls to be dropped off at its San Diego or Escondido campuses. Monetary donations for fire recovery efforts can also be made online here.

Support GoFundMe campaigns.

GoFundMe has vetted and verified campaigns related to the fires and created a hub to make them easy to find. The campaigns are largely trying to raise money to help families replace basic items, rebuild their lost homes, and find temporary or permanent housing.

Use Facebook's Crisis Response tool to donate or give and find help.

Facebook users can donate via GlobalGiving, a nonprofit organization that provides grants and funding for local and reputable nonprofits affected by the fires. Users are also crowdsourcing offers and requests for help that include clothes, shelter, and transportation.

Donate via Google.

If you search for "Southern California fires donation" in Google, the top of your results should include a pop-up prompt to make a donation to the Ventura County Fires relief. Google partnered with the Center for Disaster Philanthropy, a nonprofit organization that helps direct financial contributions to local nonprofits in the affected area.

Please donate however you can!

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h/t: Mashable, CNN