PORTLAND, Ore. — At least 31 people are dead and dozens of others are missing as massive wildfires scorches south California.
Fire officials say 29 people are dead in the Camp Fire, which is burning in northern California; and two others died in the Woolsey Fire, which is burning near Thousand Oaks in southern California.
Hundreds of thousands of people have been evacuated from their homes across California, and Gov. Jerry Brown has declared a state of emergency.
We wanted to Verify: How do you make sure the donation you’re giving to help victims of the Woolsey and Camp fires is going to a legitimate cause?
Your best tool is to check Charity Navigator. The unbiased website is a great tool in figuring out what charities you can – and can’t trust.
Avoid donating to GoFundMe accounts. It’s not guaranteed that money will be distributed to the cause it claims it’s helping, so you’re better off trusting a nonprofit organization with a strong presence in California or across the country, like the Red Cross or the Salvation Army.
You should also be careful putting in your credit card information on websites that are not secure, and you should avoid giving your credit card information via phone.
Here are a few great ways to help out:
AT&T and the American Red Cross are partnering to help. You can choose to donate to “California Wildfires” or other causes at https://rdcrss.org/2OB0WIy, or by texting “CAWILDFIRES” to 90999.
The United Way has set up a relief fund for victims. Click here to donate.
The North Valley Community Foundation is accepting financial donations to help fund services for victims. To donate, click here.
The Salvation Army is also taking financial donations. There are a few ways you can donate: Go to gosalarmy.org or call 1-800-SAL-ARMY (1-800-725-2769). You can also mail donations to: The Salvation Army , PO Box 348000, Sacramento, CA 95834. Make sure to specify that you want your donation to go to Camp Fire aid.
The LA Fire Department Foundation is accepting donations to support its firefighters. On Friday, the organization tweeted that it was raising money for hydration backpacks. Click here to donate.
The Humane Society of Ventura County, which has been affected by the Hill and Woolsey Fires, is accepting donations. Visit their website here to donate with a credit card. You can also purchase needed supplies for the shelter using Amazon Wish List.
The nonprofit Baby2Baby said it was working to get items like diapers and other essentials to children affected by the fires. You can help by purchasing items off of its registry.
The Ventura County Community Foundation has set up a Sudden and Urgent Needs Fund (SUNF) for the Hill and Woolsey fires in response to the recent breakouts in Ventura County. It’s designed to create a source for rapid funding and support nonprofit organizations that are helping those affected by the wildfires. You can click here to donate or visit their Facebook page to find additional information.
In partnership with the United Way of Ventura County, the United Way of Greater Los Angeles has created a disaster relief fund to serve low-income community and working individuals. Their mission is to meet long-term needs and help those affected by the wildfire reestablish their lives. You can click here to donateor text “UWVC” to 41444.
Similarly to it’s southern counterparts, the United Way of NorCal is providing relief to Camp Fire victims in Butte County. To donate online click here or text “BUTTEFIRE” to 91999.
The Humane Society of Ventura County is collecting donations to help evacuated animals from the Hill and Woolsey fires that are currently being housed at shelters. You can contribute to their cause by buying supplies through their Amazon Wish List or you can make donations through the Network for Good to help a specific animal in need. If you’d like to make a general donation, click here.
The Enloe Medical Center is accepting donations to provide relief to patients and families through their Camp Fire Relief Fund. The fund will also help caregivers who lost their homes or have been displaced. To donate online click here or you can text “CampFireRelief” to 91999.
The Los Angeles Fire Department has put together a campaign to purchase hydration backpacks for the firefighters, which could not be covered by the city’s budget. To donate, click here.
The city’s fire department also asked the public to the donate to the Widows, Orphans & Disables Firemen’s Fund, which helps the families of firefighters injured or killed in the line of duty. They’re also taking donations through the Fire Family Foundation, which is a part of the Firefighters First Credit Union.