Church Helps Provide Comfort and Aid to California Fire Victims
How to Help Fire Victims
Fires can destroy lives and livelihoods in the blink of an eye, regardless of whether they stay confined to one house or spread throughout a wide area. When the fire victims are people you know, offers of personal help can mean a lot. If you want to help fire victims you don't know, you can usually donate money, food, or supplies through third party organizations.
Offer Personal Help
Get in touch.If the fire victim is someone you know and care about, get in touch with them as soon as you can. Simply reaching out in love to a fire victim can provide a healing dose of emotional support.
- By its very nature, house fires and similar crises can make people feel isolated and alone. Making contact lets your loved ones know that they are not as alone as they might feel.
- You can call, text, or e-mail the victim. Any method of communication is better than none at all.
- Keep your words simple. Saying "I'm sorry for your loss" and "I'm glad you're alive" is usually enough. Platitudes regarding the "bright side" of things don't often help, especially not during the initial stages of shock.
- If you offer your support, make sure that you plan to follow through and provide it. Now is not the time for false promises.
- Listen more than you speak. Everyone reacts to tragedy in a different manner, so you should wait to hear from the victim about how hopeful or distraught he or she feels before chiming in.
Offer financial support.Even if the homeowner had insurance, the amount of red tape and paperwork he or she will need to sort through will delay the claim. A financial gift will almost always help, even if you can only afford to give a small amount.
- If you can meet in person, consider handing the victim cash or a check. When you want to offer financial support but must do so via mail, send a check since cash is less secure.
- Another option would be to give the victim a gift card. Gift certificates to a grocery store are practical and make a great choice, but you can also do something a little more personalized if you know the victim relatively well. For instance, a gift card to a bookstore can be a good choice for a family of avid readers since it gives them a chance to restock their lost book collection.
Bring a meal.During the initial chaos and trauma, simple tasks like cooking dinner can seem a lot more complicated than usual. Cooking a meal and bringing it to your neighbor or loved one offers both practical and emotional support.
- If you can't cook, you could bring your loved ones groceries or offer to take them out to a restaurant.
- Sending food can even be helpful if the victims are staying with someone since this gesture can relieve some of the burden from their hosts.
Replace lost belongings.Find out how much was lost and donate items to help replace some of those belongings.
- It is generally a wise idea to find out what the victim needs instead of making assumptions. Insurance often provides fire victims with household basics, for instance. Even if their basic supplies won't be replaced by insurance, fire victims may not need such items until after they've found a place to stay.
- Items of sentimental value can never be replaced, but there might be ways for you to help dull the loss. For instance, if the victim is a close relative, you can provide them copies of photographs they lost in the fire.
- Kids can be especially devastated when personal possessions are lost in a fire. Find out if there were any lost toys or games that meant a lot and ask if you can buy a replacement.
Run an errand.If you live nearby, offer to run an errand for the fire victim. Doing so can save them time and energy that they will undoubtedly need for something else.
- Ask the victims if there are any errands they haven't been able to do yet, like shopping for certain items. Offer to take care of these errands for them.
- If the errand is something that the victim must be present for, like something dealing with the bank or insurance company, offer to drive him or her there if transportation would otherwise be a problem.
Stick with them through the process.Commit to helping your neighbor or loved ones throughout the entire recovery process. When the initial flood of support passes by, they will appreciate that you've still remained by their side.
- As the process continues, the victims' needs may change. Someone who wasn't ready to replace household goods at first might need to do so three months later, for instance. Make it a point to keep asking the victims what they need and helping them out accordingly.
- If nothing else, continued emotional support can mean a lot to a fire victim.
Know what to donate.Fire victims are usually in need of both money and supplies, so donating either one can help a lot.
- Make sure that the donation you plan to make is accepted by the donation facility you plan to leave it with.
- When donating supplies, focus on things the fire victims will need immediately instead of things that will be needed later on. Some good options include clothes, canned food, bottled water, pain relievers, baby food, trash bags, laundry detergent, socks, pillows, blankets, and diapers.
Contact the Red Cross.Your local chapter of the Red Cross may step in, especially when widespread loss is involved. Getting in touch with the Red Cross online, by phone, or in person is one of the quickest ways to find out how you can help.
- You can find the contact information for your local Red Cross location by using the online search tool:
- You can also contact the Red Cross by phone at 1-800-RED CROSS (1-800-733-2767).
- When widespread fire damage is an issue, the Red Cross will need both donations and volunteers. If you cannot donate money or supplies, donating your time is another option worth considering.
Find local donation drop-off points.Depending on the circumstances, various businesses, churches, and government offices in your area might be accepting donations for the fire victims. You can donate money and supplies to fire victims you don't know through these donation drop-off points.
- If you do not know where to look, call your city hall, local news station, or local radio station. These sources of information might be able to direct you to a place accepting donations.
- Churches are common donation drop-off points, as are radio stations and news stations.
- Your Public Utility District (PUD) or city hall might be accepting donations, too.
- Businesses often establish themselves as donation drop-off points, too, especially when widespread fire damage is an issue. These businesses can vary in nature and may include banks, credit unions, restaurants, and home improvement stores.
Donate food and supplies to local animal shelters.When house fires sweep through a broad area and cause widespread loss, many pets get lost and picked up by local animal shelters. Donate to the local shelter to help them handle the influx of pet.
- By assisting the animal shelter, you allow them to save and support more pets for a longer period. This gives their owners a greater chance to find them again.
- Aside from dog food and cat food, you should also consider donating crates, cat litter, toys, towels, and beds.
Spread the Word
Encourage friends and neighbors to help.Regardless of whether the fire was widespread or confined to a single family, encouraging your friends, relatives, and neighbors to assist in helping the victims can have a significant impact.
Establish a local donation center.Talk to a local church or another business that might be willing to establish itself as a drop-off point for donations.
- Make sure that the place you choose is trustworthy. Churches and community centers are usually good places to start. If you would prefer to work with a local business, make sure that the one you choose has a good and honest reputation.
- Some organizations may even be willing to help you set up a fundraiser to help the victims. If they do not want to be involved in the planning process, they may at least allow you to use their premises.
Connect with the local media.Spread the word about the disaster by contacting local television news stations, local radio stations, and local newspapers. Doing so can spread news of the fire to a wider audience, and a wider audience may mean a larger base of support.
- When the damage is confined to one family or a small group of families, you may want to get the victims' permission before spreading their story. Some people won't mind being put in the spotlight, but others may prefer their privacy.
QuestionI want to donate old carpentry tools to someone who needs them. How do I find someone?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerTry to use an internet search and look for charities helping fire victims. You can also go to your local fire department and ask them if they know of anyone in need.Thanks!
QuestionI would like to help a fire victim family or and older couple with some financial support. How do I find someone?Community AnswerUsually, when there is a fire, the local media cover the story. If the family needs help, they may announce where donations can be made.Thanks!
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