VENTURA, Calif. - Many of the things that we take for granted are just the things that many of the victims from the Thomas Fire will now need after they lost everything.
The Red Cross Shelter located on the corner of Thompson Boulevard and Ventura Avenue is helping give a head start.
Maggie Tougas works at the Ventura County Volunteer Organization Active in Disaster, otherwise known as VOAD. It’s an organization that assists individuals in recovering from a disaster.
“We were in the process of creating a donations management plan," said Tougas. "We were asked to create one by the County. We were actually halfway done with it and trying to determine where we were going to store all the stuff that people were going to donate and this happened. So I guess we are testing our plan.”
The donations that are collected at the warehouse is distributed out to other organizations that need it such as the Red Cross, Salvation Army, and Habitat for Humanity to name a few.
“For example, Santa Barbara needed water," said Tougas. "We had a lot of water so we had them come pick up seven pallets of water to take up there. That is perfect in how it is supposed to work.”
Tougas says they have been getting lots of donations the first week of the fire, but since has dwindled down. Volunteers are also needed.
“We need the manpower to manage this operation," said Peter Gillespie, Manager at Red Cross. "We got goods coming in and we are sorting and organizing the goods and we are making them available to local community-based organizations.”
Other nonprofits in Ventura County have stepped in to lend a helping hand including Project Understanding. They help provide groceries to families once a month but have since opened the doors to the people who have been affected by the Thomas Fire.
“We are normally feeding about 2,400 individuals a month," said Brandy Beesley, CEO of Project Understanding. "The need has increased since the fire has happened. We have also acted as a first responding unit. We are taking in donations of blankets, food, water, diapers. We have seen in the past few weeks the number of individuals coming through here has drastically increased.”
Project Understanding says it's the monetary donations that will help get many back their feet in rebuilding their lives.
“I think Ventura County is the 13th highest for cost of living in the nation," said Beesley. "For those who do not have renters insurance they are going to need to come up with a down payment and a deposit for first and last month's rent. That is where Project Understanding can come in and give the assistance that is needed for rental assistance.”
For more information about Project Understanding you can visit their website.
For more information about Ventura County Volunteer Organization Active in Disaster you can visit their website.