Where to volunteer in and around Ventura

Volunteer Marla Randall and her two granddaughters with helping by walking a “dobie”.

by Mira Reverente

The Thomas Fire images are heartbreaking. The figures are staggering. The loss of property is astounding. At least 972 structures destroyed and 258 damaged. As of this writing, the fires have burned through 242,500 acres and is 30% contained.

Everyone processes these losses and destruction differently, but there are a few things that can be done. If you take a look below, you can help. You can make a difference in a small but impactful way. We found five places around town and volunteered at a couple. For sure, there are more not mentioned below that could use your help.

For some of these places, it’s highly recommended to visit their Facebook pages first for more updated info or to sign up quickly for volunteer shifts.

Take action and take your pick.

Source: http://www.fire.ca.gov/current_incidents/incidentdetails/Index/1922

American Red Cross, Ventura

No matter what your interest or availability is, there’s bound to be an opportunity for you at the Red Cross donation center at 194 Junipero St. or at the shelter at the Ventura County Fairgrounds.

The process to sign up online was easy. I also attended a two-hour volunteer orientation in Camarillo, prior to helping sort donations. The need for helping hands is great. You’ll meet a lot of friendly, big-hearted, like-minded folks. If you are a hands-on person, this is for you.

Greatest needs: volunteers to help sort donations and man the shelter

Website: www.redcross.org/volunteer/become-a-volunteer#step1

Dobies and Little Paws Rescue, Fillmore

Let’s not forget our furry friends who are also going through stress and anxiety during these uncertain times. When my group showed up, there were dozens of doggies that were evacuated and needed to be walked. My furry pal took a long time to get “warmed up” but then cozied up to me and didn’t want to leave my side after a 45-minute walk. Warning: if you are a dog lover, you will get attached.

Greatest needs: dog walkers, blankets, towels

Website: www.DobiesandLittlePawsRescue.org

Santa Paula Animal Rescue Center (SPARC)

Over 100 dogs are also in dire need of walks at this no-kill shelter. Volunteer orientation is required. Call for the updated schedule. Again, animal lovers, be prepared to get those heartstrings tugged.

Greatest needs: dog walkers, blankets, towels

Website: santapaulaarc.org

World Central Kitchen, Ventura and Santa Barbara

This is ideal for those who like to be involved in mass meal preparation and delivery. When I clicked on the volunteer sign-up link from their Facebook page, several shifts were still open at their kitchens in Ventura and Santa Barbara. With over 2,000+ meals being prepped every day, they could use your help.

Greatest needs: volunteers to prepare, distribute and deliver meals to first responders, shelters and children at the Boys and Girls Clubs

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/WorldCentralKitchenThomasFire/

Website: www.worldcentralkitchen.org

Ventura Recovery Coalition

A new grassroots coalition of 20+ non-profit groups aimed at accommodating specific community needs and matching those with available resources. VRC is currently in the process of organizing a centralized volunteer network to assist in recovery efforts.

Fill out this form to volunteer: https://docs.google.com/forms/d/e/1FAIpQLSfUpSzxgjeq-DSRrSCnlWA0Bh2TGFV5jdKTW3iL1GlcBStkAg/viewform

Greatest needs: varies

Website: unknown

Also, for updated fire info and ongoing volunteer needs, search for and join Thomas Fire Info on Facebook.

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