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Want to help Sonoma County’s wildfire relief efforts? Here’s how

Sonoma County’s nonprofits and disaster relief groups are hoping area residents step up to help families and businesses affected by a pair of wildfires, a situation compounded by the coronavirus pandemic.

The Walbridge fire west of Healdsburg and the Meyers fire north of Jenner burned over 57,000 acres, and as of early Wednesday, more than 5,000 residents still were under evacuation orders, county and fire officials said.

Here is a list of nonprofits seeking donations and other assistance for fire survivors:

Redwood Empire Food Bank:

Redwood Empire Food Bank is accepting money and food donations.

The food bank, which serves Northern California from Sonoma County to the Oregon border, has seen an explosion in demand since the coronavirus pandemic began in March, when distribution of emergency food boxes went from 10,000 a month to roughly 36,000 boxes a month, CEO David Goodman said in a video posted on the organization’s Facebook page.

“Next time you go to the grocery store and you’re purchasing for your family, please think about all the people who are really struggling during these times and pick up an extra bag of groceries and drop it off at the Redwood Empire Food Bank,” Goodman said.

Financial donations help cover the nonprofit’s costs such as food refrigeration and transportation.

People who want to donate, volunteer or get food assistance from the food bank can go to refb.org for more information.

UndocuFund:

UndocuFund is seeking financial assistance to help undocumented people and their families, particularly those who have lost their homes or remain evacuated during the fires, fund spokesman Omar Medina said.

The fund, created after the 2017 Tubbs fire to provide assistance to undocumented wildfire survivors, already had more than a 300-person waitlist of families seeking help due to the pandemic before the fires sparked.

Organizers have been able to provide aid to fire victims most in need in recent days through referrals from local nonprofits, Medina said.

Donations can be made at undocufund.org/donate, by mail or by texting SONOMA to 44321.

Corazón Healdsburg:

The Healdsburg-based nonprofit reopened its Unity and Community Fund last week to help families disrupted by the fires, as well as those facing financial hardships due to the pandemic, said Angie Sanchez, head of programs.

Money raised will help cover lodging costs for families who have been evacuated or permanently displaced from their homes. In addition, low-income workers who have contracted COVID-19 and need to stay home from work will be helped.

The nonprofit also has launched a disaster resilience program to educate people about emergency preparedness, financial planning and renter’s insurance.Those who complete the program, offered in Spanish and English, are eligible to have their renter’s insurance paid for an entire year by Corazón Healdsburg, Sanchez said.

People seeking assistance can call 707-395-0938. The nonprofit primarily helps residents living in northern Sonoma County from Windsor to Cloverdale.

Donations to the fund launched during the 2019 Kincade fire can be made online at the Corazón Healdsburg website or mailed to the nonprofit.

American Red Cross:

American Red Cross is accepting monetary donations for victims of the wildfires. Because of the coronavirus pandemic, the organization is asking good Samaritans to withhold dropping off food, clothing and other supplies at shelters, said Kathryn Hecht, a spokeswoman for the organization.

More than 2,500 people in Northern California received emergency housing assistance through the nonprofit since Aug. 17, Hecht said. In Sonoma County, Red Cross volunteers are helping people seeking temporary shelter.

People seeking support from the Red Cross are encouraged to go to Sonoma County Fairgrounds for an initial assessment. They also can call the organization’s hotline at 1-800-733-2767 or 1-800-RED-CROSS.

Financial donations can be made at redcross.org/donate or by mail. People wishing to route their funds directly to their area’s wildfire relief efforts can do so by selecting “Your Local Red Cross” under “I Want to Support.”

People who prefer to volunteer for the organization can apply at redcross.org/volunteer.

Sonoma County Farm Bureau:

Sonoma County Farm Bureau is raising money for farmers and ranchers whose businesses have been damaged or destroyed by the wildland blazes.

Donations can be made online at sonomafb.org/wildfire-donation or by mail.

Russian River Alliance:

Russian River Alliance is seeking monetary support for its Workforce Fund for low-wage workers living in the lower Russian River area, fund organizer Jennifer Wertz said.

Recently, the nonprofit has given $45,000 worth of grocery and restaurant gift cards to families and workers burdened during the pandemic, Wertz said. The fund also paid a group of taxi drivers to deliver groceries for three months to Russian River-area residents most vulnerable to contracting COVID-19.

The group is hoping for donations to help fire victims with basic supplies like food and gas. People can get more information at russianriveralliance.org/take-action.

River to Coast Children’s Service:

River to Coast Children’s Service is asking for monetary donations to help displaced Guerneville residents pay for essentials like meals and temporary housing, which are a growing need, said executive director Soledad Figueroa.

The nonprofit is also working with UndocuFund to help immigrant families and using grant funds to provide gift cards for anyone who needs help with food costs. River to Coast has been working with the Red Cross and county social services to help families navigate evacuations and potential losses from the fire.

Anyone interested in donating can call Figueroa directly at 707-477-7898, or get more information at rccservices.org.

Community Action Partnership Sonoma County:

Sonoma County branch of Community Action Partnership is collecting cash and gift cards to support fire victims or anyone from a mandatory evacuation zone that needs financial assistance.

The local offshoot of the national nonprofit has been working with Catholic Charities to distribute gift cards at the county fairgrounds, the temporary evacuation point for displaced area residents. Anyone who needs gift cards and isn’t at the fairgrounds can contact the CAP office or Catholic Charities.

Also, CAP is beginning to explore different options for providing resources and assisting with recovery as the amount of need becomes clearer. The organization’s local resource center, Rebuilding Our Community, has provided support for fire victims since the 2017 firestorm.

Assistant director Kathy Kane can provide information on donating. She can be reached by email at kkane@capsonoma.org, or by phone at 707-544-6911.

Staff Writer Yousef Baig contributed to this story. You can reach Staff Writer Nashelly Chavez at nashelly.chavez@pressdemocrat.com. On Twitter @nashellytweets.

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