Victor Jung is a committed philanthropist from New York City

Tag: Natural Disasters

How You Can Help California Wildfire Victims

The wildfires that tore through Southern California earlier this month have left heartache and devastation in their wake. The wild Santa Ana winds have brought a new and terrifying level of destruction to an already vulnerable landscape. The largest of the fires, the Thomas Fire, continues to burn in Ventura and Santa Barbara counties. It is currently the third largest fire in California history. The Creek, Rye, and Skirball fires are almost fully contained, as is the Lilac Fire in San Diego County.

With both human and animal lives lost in the catastrophes, many people would, and should like to help the survivors to endure their current circumstances and rebuild their lives.

When deciding how to help, it can be tempting to run around your house and gather material donations for people. However, it is important to remember that aid agencies often need cash donations when dealing with crisis situations. With cash, necessary items can be bought quickly and easily. It is important to be well-informed when deciding whether to donate cash, goods, or time when offering support to victims of natural disasters.

For those wishing to help the animal victims of the wildfires, there are several animal aid and rescue organizations working in areas that need assistance. The Humane Society of Ventura County is requesting monetary donations to help with the displaced animals currently in their care. Volunteers are accepted; however, they must phone ahead instead and not just show up unannounced. The Los Angeles County Animal Care Foundation has a disaster relief fund that also can be contributed to.

Local charities accepting monetary donations include the United Way of Ventura County, the American Red Cross of Ventura County (which has opened three shelters), the Ventura County Community Foundation, the San Diego Foundation, and the Salvation Army (food and water donations are being accepted at the Ventura County Fairgrounds for evacuees). Additionally, donations can be made to specific individuals or families affected by the wildfires through crowdfunding sites such as and

Local residents that wish to volunteer to assist those affected can visit the Red Cross website, enter their zip code, and search through the current volunteer opportunities to find a suitable match.

Giving support in an emergency enriches the lives of all involved: donor and receiver. Please help if you are able to do so, and promote charitable action by spreading the word.

Donating After a Disaster: Where to Spend Your Money

Mark Zandi, chief economist at Moody’s Analytics, said that the damage caused by Hurricane Harvey and Hurricane Irma combined could be up to $200 billion. Nearly a month after Harvey devastated South Texas, many hundreds continue to live in tent cities. Then, Hurricane Maria left up to $95 billion in damage in Puerto Rico where only 5% of people have power after 15 days. The worst mass shooting in the United States, wildfires burning over 2 million acres in the Western United States, and the severe flooding in Southeast Asia that killed over 1,000 people have left the world wondering where and what donations should be sent.

Identify Your Values

The first step in deciding where to send your donations is to know your own values. Experts suggest that you pick your cause with your heart, but pick the organization with your head. While some will designate where they want their money spent, others will leave those decisions to the organization receiving their donation.

Do Your Research Before You Give

You should investigate the organization before you trust them with your money. Thankfully, several websites make that easy to do including:

Wise Giving Alliance

Charity Watch

Charity Navigator


The best time to investigate an organization is before a disaster strikes, as it gives you time to focus on the organizations that interest you. Besides looking at charity rating services, take a look at organizations’ websites to find out how they have spent their money in the past. If an organization is talking solely about how they want your donation without showing you how they are addressing the problem, then you may want to look elsewhere.

Money Is Best

While it may be tempting to donate material goods, most relief workers say money is best. Elise Mitchell, who was tasked with sorting clothes during a hurricane that hit St. Kitts (where temperatures seldom drop below 70 degrees Fahrenheit), tells of unwrapping a fur-lined coat with a temperature rating of -32 degrees Fahrenheit. Many organizations simply do not have time to sort clothes, leaving them to rot outside during disasters.

Stay Updated


While disasters may drop quickly from the news, keep following up on those that touch your heart the most. Repeatedly giving on a regular basis is usually the best way to help your favorite organization. Many employees can do this through their workplaces, with some employers even matching employee gifts. Just because media outlets have ceased coverage does not mean that the lasting effects as a result of a natural disaster have ended.

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