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Want to help in the fire effort? Here's how [Updated]

August 31, 2009 | 12:58 pm

Charitable organizations providing aid to people evacuated from the wildfires say they need cash gifts more than anything else to sustain supply lines of food and to maintain counseling and relocation services. There is, however, a need for some food for animals.

Volunteers who want to help at the shelters should first contact agencies such as the Salvation Army and the American Red Cross rather than just show up at a shelter, the organizations say. The goal is to ensure proper training, maintain security and distribute manpower where it is most needed.  

“We do encourage people to volunteer, but they do need to get some training before they become shelter workers,” said Charlie Sardou, communications director for the Red Cross’ Greater Los Angeles Chapter. He said such training can be done in a day and then a volunteer will be on call for this and future emergencies.

“This is just the beginning of fire season,” he noted.

See below for specific organizations and contact information.

Last night, the Red Cross served about 75 evacuees at six shelters in the foothills region affected by the Station fire.

Similarly, the Salvation Army of Southern California had enough shelter workers today, “but that situation could change,” according to spokesman Robert Brennan, who urged potential volunteers to contact the agency.

Potential volunteers for the Red Cross should call (866) 548-8226. Financial donations can be made by calling (310) 445-2685 or online at www.redcrossla.org

For donations and volunteering at the Salvation Army, call (800) SALARMY or go online at: www.salvationarmy-socal.org

The groups say they do not want individual donations of food or clothing dropped off at shelters. But donors of clothing and household goods to Goodwill stores in Los Angeles, San Bernardino and Riverside counties can indicate they want shopping vouchers provided to fire victims under an arrangement with the Red Cross. Goodwill Southern California has 100 locations that can be found by calling (888) 4GOODWILL or (888) 446-6394, or by going online at www.goodwillsocal.org

Goodwill spokeswoman Christianne Ray said the program allows fire victims “the option of shopping whenever they are ready and to shop for exactly what they need.” The Red Cross decides how large a voucher each household receives.

The Pasadena Humane Society & SPCA has provided a temporary home to about 250 pets since the evacuations began on Friday and is asking for donations of cat food and cat litter. “All brands are fine. And we will take dog food, of course, and towels and blankets too,” said Hillary Gatlin, a community resources associate. She asked that donors bring the items to the society at 361 S. Raymond Ave. in Pasadena. The society can be reached at (626) 792-7151.

[Updated at 2:10 p.m: The Los Angeles Department of Animal Services reports that it also wants donations of unopened animal food to aid pets evacuated in the Sunland-Tujunga area. Donations should be brought to the department’s North Central facility near downtown Los Angeles at 3201 Lacy St., Los Angeles, CA 90031. For more information, call (888) 452-7381.]

If you know of other organizations in need, please leave us a comment on this post.

-- Larry Gordon