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image source: geoffrey von oeyen

This weekend has been a very terrifying and heartbreaking few days for many fellow Southern Californians, as THREE different wildfires continue to destroy homes, businesses and entire communities, not to mention the mass shooting in Thousand Oaks. The ash floating through the air here in Los Angeles is a constant reminder that only 40 miles away, people are waiting to hear if their home has been spared or lost. And even worse, up in Northern California, families are still waiting for news about family members and friends who have been reported missing since the fire began.

The EHD team is out of the office today, in observation of Veteran’s Day. While many things are being overshadowed by the fires, we should all take a minute to say thank you to all of those who have served our country. In fact, every day of our lives, not just on Veterans Day, when we see someone in uniform, we should stop and say a quick ‘thank you so much for your service’. I wish it were more obvious who has served, I suppose that’s literally why they hand out badges, but if you or someone you know has or is serving, please feel appreciated this day because YOU ARE.

I wanted to quickly share some very easy ways anyone can donate or offer assistance in light of these ongoing fires (two of which are still barely contained due to high winds, despite hundreds of firefighters battling them every hour of the day). Even though we might feel helpless in situations like these, it’s always important to remember that donating money is almost always the absolute best way to help. It provides funds to those responders and volunteers on the ground who are trained to help in ways we can’t, and provides aid, food and shelter to those who have been evacuated, injured or who have lost their homes.

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image source: AP photo/noah berger

We did some research as to some of the organizations that need the most help right now to help others, but please do share in the comments any others that you know that are doing good work, or any other sources to spread information for how to lend a hand in any way you’re able/called to.

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1. The Los Angeles Fire Department Foundation: This private organization provides additional funding to the LAFD where the city budget falls short. They are currently taking donations which they will use to equip firefighters with hydration packs and night vision goggles which are essential to battling these fast-moving fires.

2. The California Community Foundation Wildfire Relief Fund: This organization “supports relief and recovery efforts in the aftermath of devastating California wildfires” by issuing grants which assist Californian’s with temporary housing, rebuilding homes, providing healthcare and much more.

3. Airbnb’s Open Home Program: If you live in Southern California and are interested in opening your home to those displaced by the fires, then head to Airbnb and register for their Open Home Program, which pairs families and individuals who have either been evacuated or lost their homes due to the fires with California neighbors who are able to host them, free of charge.

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image source: humane society of ventura county

4. Humane Society Of Ventura County: The Humane Society is always a worthy cause to donate to, but in times of natural disaster, they are in need of donations more than ever. Many animals have been evacuated, displaced or even abandoned in the chaos of these fires and the people of the HSVC are helping rescue and foster as many animals as they possibly can.

5. The California Fire Foundation: Often evacuations happen too quickly for families to pack the things they need long-term. The California Fire Foundation has a specific program called SAVE (Supplying Aid to Victims of Emergencies) where they distribute prepaid Mastercard gift cards to firefighters on the front lines who are then able to pass them along to families directly affected by the fires. These families can then immediately use these prepaid cards to purchase food, clothing and other essential items they need.

6. United Way Of Greater Los Angeles: This is the local branch of the larger United Way organization, which aims to provide aid to the most economically vulnerable who have been affected by these fires. According to their site, “aside from the natural disaster, many low-income communities and working individuals are often affected, creating long-term needs to reestablish their lives.”

I know that California is filled with strong, resilient people who will rebuild and start over. But there’s no way to ever replace a home that’s been lost, and all the memories that were created there. My heart hurts for anyone who has been affected by these fires, especially those who have lost loved ones. We’ll be back to our normal blog content tomorrow (and we have something fun planned), but for today I’m holding my little family very tightly and keeping everyone affected by the fires in my thoughts.

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