This picture is from the Goat Rescue Center of Sonoma County GoFundMe.
To share a little bit about myself, I am a recently Returned Peace Corps Volunteer in the process of applying to graduate school. (Many of my short stories that will be posted on this blog will be from my experiences abroad.) To me, and to the annoyance of my parents, money ain’t no thang. My year of service abroad left me with some massive earnings around $3,500, with of course my tens of thousands of dollars in student loans. Yet, I know those will someday get paid off and once I’m working doing something I love, the money will come. #Optimist
I’d like to use that to preface the fact that for the holidays this year, when consumerism is at its highest, I am giving myself a certain amount of money to donate where it is needed. It will not be a ton, but in my mind I will be doing my part as a fellow citizen of our global community. On days when money is scarce I will either make a decision to not spend a small amount of money, so I can feel comfortable about donating it, or contribute in some other way. This isn’t something I am doing to feel like I am better in any way than anyone else, I am doing it because I think it will help make the world a better place when we all do it. Also, this blog has made me realize that I can’t write it and not do anything about the world’s problems- that makes me a hypocrite.
So, without further adieu, today I am focusing on the California wildfires that have been ravaging the western corner of my country. I did some research and compared strategies of how to do my part, how anyone else can do their part, and compiled a list organized into low, medium, and high levels of effort (not resources, a.k.a. money). As it turns out, the outpouring of love, support, and resources has already been fantastic, so I am proud to help keep that going! The information below was collected from the following resources: CNN, The Huffington Post, NBC, Curbed San Francisco, ABC7, and SELF.
Low Effort (But just as meaningful!)
Donate money to one of these GoFundMe accounts!
This one GoFundMe page has hundreds of accounts in the form of specific families, businesses, volunteer and rescue crews, and much more that are in need of a certain amount of money, listed as their “goal”. Scroll through to see how many amazing people are donating, as well as to find a page that speaks to you. I chose a goat rescue run by a family in the deaf community. Some of their farm was built last year but not yet insured, and it burned to the ground. They have a bulleted list of exactly what they will use your money for. All of the pages are just as incredible as this one and the process is really simple! The website is secure so you can feel comfortable putting your information out into the abyss that is the internet.
Donate to local food pantries!
When your entire house, business, or maybe even both are burned down imagine how stressful it is to spend money, and how frustrating it must be to feel this way about necessities like food. If you are local you can drive non-perishable foods to a food shelter, if you aren’t local you can always mail food. I know that in my downstairs pantry there has got to be something useful! The links above provide addresses of tens of food shelves, from what I can tell they are right where the action is, but it is in no way all-inclusive. I am sure there are tons more!
Donate some essential supplies for comfort and hygiene!
Love on Haight and the RYSE Youth Center are collecting and dispersing clothes, especially new undergarments and socks, pillows, baby food, female hygiene products, gift cards and much more. There were often times that I saw, whilst living abroad, young women staying home from school because they didn’t have access to feminine hygiene products. I’m sure for countless women and men out west, buying those products along with basic comforts is something don’t want to be a major obstacle right now.
I give this option the creativity award for how people around the United States can help! It turns out all of the blood drives- including mobile units- in Santa Rosa and Nappa county have been shut down due to road closures, poor air quality, and close fires. The horrible irony is that these are the hardest hit areas, where people need medical assistance the most, and now injured victims of the fire can not get blood locally. The good news though, is that you can donate anywhere in the country and excess blood can be shipped to those people who need it!
Volunteer at a local food pantry, animal shelter, or for the Red Cross!
I am sure anyone who is local and able-bodied has already considered and/or acted upon this option. Thank you for everything that you are doing! If I was there, I would be joining you.
Foster or adopt an animal from northern California!
Some shelters hit by the fire had to evacuate further away, putting a lot of busy animal shelters already strapped for resources in an even more difficult situation. To add salt to this wound, the Petaluma Animals Shelter is one shelter that had recently taken animal evacuees from Louisiana to aid in Hurricane Harvey relief, who then had to be evacuated again to three separate Humane Societies nearby. The websites for those Humane Societies are listed above but again, this list is not all-inclusive. If your initial instinct is that you don’t have the ability to adopt an animal, consider fostering or donating. Anything helps!
Offer your land to host campers through HipCamp!
This program is typically utilized to provide unique camping locations for Boy Scouts to learn more about nature and their community, which is lovely in itself! In recent days, this organization has opened up for the thousands of families that have lost their homes to the fires. These families are now living out of tents and HipCamp can connect them with anyone willing to let them set up camp on their property.
Choose how you want to help (low, medium, high) with this open GoogleDoc!
An open GoogleDoc is accessible for anybody that has an account with Google- a gmail address counts. This document has lists and contact information of places to donate, organizations looking for volunteers, organizations opening homes to evacuees, and a bunch of other ways to help locally (such as helping reunite families that have been separated). It can be updated by anybody in real time so it is a really good way to keep up to date with what is going on.
This is the best list of ways to help that I could come up with. If you have anymore ideas, contact me or comment! Thank you for joining me to do our part as fantastic global citizens!