Through November, as families and friends have gathered around the kick-off for the holiday season, one of the biggest stories has been the devastating fires that have destroyed the lives of so many people. As I write this, over 1,000 people are missing, many of them are senior citizens in their 70’s, 80’s and 90’s. An individual who is missing is 101 years old.
The town of Paradise, California, with 27,000 residents was decimated with almost every home destroyed by fire. As a town resident, Cole Wyatt said, “A whole town was wiped off the face of the Earth in a matter of eight hours.”
What started as three wildfires became hell on earth for many people. These infernos engulfed everything in their path. Hundreds of thousands of acres in California have been destroyed, but more importantly, people and animals have lost their lives in these fires. The fires have become, not only the most destructive but also the deadliest in California history.
A Natural Disaster in People’s Lives
There’s a natural disaster happening in the lives of people, and with the California fires, this is particularly true for a portion of our fellow U.S. citizens. As we begin December, and the month where we are supposed to be mindful of giving and sharing, it’s important to remember that this holiday season, we have Americans who are living in temporary shelters. There are Americans have had their whole worlds have been flipped upside down with the loss of everything they own, including their homes.
Imagine, for a moment, what it must be to lose everything you own. Imagine, your home being completely destroyed and everything within its walls, including all of your possessions and important valuables, but more importantly, the experiences and memories that you treasure. Imagine being a senior having everything you’ve known eviscerated into dust. Some children and the elderly have been sleeping in tents. Others in cars, and make-shift shelters, such as schools and churches.
One of the secondary issues that have arisen, as often happens, is a norovirus outbreak in four shelters, which has made life even more difficult for victims who are already dealing with incredible loss and tragedy.
Help the Victims of the California Fires
Something as devastating as the California fires take months, if not years, to recover from for most people. One of the victims, Whitney Vaughan, who is seeking a place to live and is in her SUV with her husband, Grady, said, “Today, after another day of being unable to locate any housing, my husband and I sat in our car at the park and cried. I feel like giving up. We, like so many other families, have nothing left. I don’t even have words to describe what my family has gone through this week.”
This week and month as we race toward the holidays, you can make a difference. Every gift, no matter how large or small, counts. Even a $1, added to dollars from countless other people, can provide for Americans who are in need at this moment, including the brave firefighters who fought the fire by bravely placing their lives on the line for others. Also, let’s not forget the animals who have survived the devastation, and which we’ve all seen people trying to help. Consider donating one of the following organizations.
- Los Angeles Fire Department
- United Way of Greater Los Angeles, Southern California Disaster Relief Fund
- American Red Cross
- California Community Foundation, Wildlife Relief Fund
- Humane Society of Ventura County
Author of “Not Your Father’s Charity: Grip & Rip Leadership for Social Impact” (Free Digital Download)
© 2018 Wayne Elsey and Not Your Father’s Charity. All Rights Reserved