November 15, 2018
Picture of piles of clothing spread across a parking lot
Ted Soqui/Corbis via Getty Images
When it comes to helping Wildfire survivors in California, Butte County is asking donors to "please consider making a monetary donation. Shelters and drop-off locations are overwhelmed with material donations". In fact, the only official location taking donated goods right now for the Campfire wildfire is Salvation Army and they specify that "only new items will be accepted". But Northwesterners are generous, and who doesn't love the idea of giving stuff to those impacted by disaster?

Some items are more helpful than others, but many cannot be used at all so it is best to know before hand. When it comes to food, officials have to be very picky. Home cooked meals and goodies are never accepted for health reasons and even canned foods with clear labels and plenty of shelf life sometimes cannot be accommodated. Your generous financial donations, however, can get exactly what is needed, where it is needed most.

Well meaning people, when not aware of the dangers of "unsolicited spontaneous donations", often end up getting in the way of disaster responders. We've seen it first hand, it is sad and nobody wins. While financial donations don't always feel personal, they are usually the very best way for concerned people to help those in need. Money donated responsibly to legitimate entities such a Red Cross, Salvation Army, and United Way quickly become what disaster survivors identify as their actual needs.

"We have buildings full of stuff," said Kathy Ingvoldsen at the Butte County Fairgrounds, “In four hours, we filled up a 5,000-square-foot building full of clothes. They’re stacked up on tables five feet high." according to the Sacramento Bee.

Please don't simply drive to California with well-meaning donations unless first coordinating with local authorities. Doing so jeopardizes limited time, personnel and space resources. It actually keeps them from assisting effectively. Financial donations are best, but unfortunately there can be requests for donations that are not, at best, effective or worst, honest. Below are some links for credible donation opportunities.

For more information related to donations in Butte County, CA supporting survivors of the #CampFire Wildfire, please go to californiavolunteers.ca.gov/camp-fire/

To donate to Red Cross: www.redcross.org/donate/donation.html and select "Help people affected by the California wildfires" option.

To donate to Salvation Army: deloro.salvationarmy.org/

To donate to the United Way of Northern California Camp Fire Fund go to www.norcalunitedway.org/camp-fire or text "BUTTEFIRE" to 91999