Monday, July 25, 2016

How to Help Displaced Residents and Firefighters of the Sand Fire

After three days of a raging fire, I woke up today to see that the front page of the California section of the Los Angeles Times headline read: "All we can do now is wait." I can't help but disagree. This website was founded on the notion that there must be something we can do. Always.

The photographs and captions in this post are borrowed with permission
by friend and photographer, Matt Johnson.
"#sandfire As seen from north most Sylmar. 8:30pm, July 24th"

Since starting it's the little things (ITLT), at least one person (friend or stranger) reaches out to me when disaster strikes and asks, "What do we do?" In an effort to create an opportunity for people to take action, we sometimes have to get a little creative. During a natural disaster crisis, we know that often the most helpful resource is funding. Below, we'll offer monetary and non-monetary ways for you to make a difference. And remember, no effort or amount is too small. 

Fire Update

Areas affected in the early stages of the Sand Fire are slowly lifting their evacuations, but the fire continues to scorch. Thankfully, the winds have died down a bit, temperatures have dropped from 109 degrees to the mid 90s, and the fire has slowed. Unfortunately, it's still far from over and we're left with these devastating statistics as of Monday night (7/25):
  • 35,000 acres have burned in the Santa Clarita mountains, about 11,000 per day 
  • More than 20,000 civilians and 10,300 structures have been evacuated, including 1500 homes
  • 18 homes have been destroyed
  • 2,964 firefighters, with orders for more, are coming from all over the nation
  • 1 man was found deceased in his car
  • 100-foot flame lengths and speed of this fire within 72 hrs was unprecedented 
  • still only at 10% containment
"July 22, 10 pm. View from the driveway. #sandfire"

ITLT Creative Act of Kindness

There are many reasons we love offering "In 5/Under 5" projects. You can make a difference within five minutes, for under five dollars, and something as simple as a card can turn someone's day around. It's the little things that make a big difference! (That's our motto anyway.) We also love projects like this because ANYone can participate from ANYwhere and half the fun is seeing from where our #TeamITLT is lending a helping hand! 

So, while this may be stretching for creativity in the midst of a tumultuous disaster, we're suggesting you take a zen moment today or tomorrow to thank the firefighters doing their best to contain this fire. Create a handmade card, write a letter, or have your co-workers fill out a card because a few pieces of friendly mail may be just what they need to strap their boots for another long, exhausting shift. Many first responders fought for 36 hours straight. You can scroll down to the bottom of this post for a list of nearby fire stations, but read on to learn other ways you may be able to help. 
(Please know that MANY firefighters across the country have been deployed to assist us, so this list only includes the few closest stations and first responders.)

Local Donations

The first and most important lesson I learned in providing donations or services was: always ask. You may have the best intentions, but if what you're donating is not immediately needed, the items themselves may take up limited space and more time to sort than volunteers can afford at the time.

Luckily, the amount of volunteer responses and donations has been overwhelming, to the point that the Red Cross evacuation centers (listed below) now have a surplus of water and other supplies. We're told Hart High School is now accepting nonperishable food, paper goods, and drinks.

Of course, the Red Cross encourages that one of the best ways to help during a crisis is through financial donations on their website. Any money you would spend on non-perishables or water can still be used.

We've also heard great reports about the community bringing food and drink to first responders throughout the fire. It's always a good idea to double check that centers can accept donations. The Sand Fire Command Post cannot accept donations, but you can go to local fire stations or call Red Cross at (310) 943-5228. If you are interested in making a donation to American Red Cross, text WILDFIRE to 75759, or donate online to the Los Angeles Region.

Habitat for Humanity has a discount home improvement store that is accepting donations during the Sand Fire. ReStore serves to "build affordable homes for low-income civilian and veteran families, and provide services that empower them to build brighter futures as homeowners." You can donate building materials, furniture, and other household items that can be used to aid victims of the fire. In particular: cement, carpeting, and flooring donations in large quantities are encouraged. Contact the ReStore Manager, Sylvia Bardelli at (818) 341-9928 to arrange pick up for donated materials.

Feed SCV is raising funds to purchase supplies to provide food for displaced families from the Sand Fire. You can get in touch with them on facebook to coordinate helping with meals, volunteering hands in the kitchen, or by donating funds so they can purchase fresh food.

"July 23, 3:45 pm. Lots of aircraft heading to the fire now. It's directly north of us now. 
May that mountain hold it back. #sandfire"

Even on summer break, the Saugus High School ASB (student government) is collecting donations for the firefighters involved. Water, gatorade, sunscreen, baby wipes, granola/protein bars, and beef jerky. Items can be dropped off at 21900 Centurion Way, Santa Clarita, CA 91350, Monday-Thursday, 9am-4pm. Similarly, Canyon High School ASB & Cheer are collecting gift cards, clothing, towels, sheets, and hygiene products. Please contact them for drop off details. Water, Gatorade, protein bars, Chapstick, eye drops and any other items useful for the firefighters and police in the evacuation zone can be made the Golden Valley High School command center. Golden Valley High School is located at 27051 Robert C. Lee Parkway, Santa Clarita, CA, 91350. Baby wipes, sunscreen, dog/cat/bird food, bottled water, gatorade, and snack bars are needed at Cedarcreek Elementary School, 27792 Camp Plenty Rd., Canyon Country. For more information, call 661-309-3727. (This paragraph relays information VIA facebook and NBC News.)

Monetary donations for the families of firefighters who lost their own homes to the Sand Fire are being accepted at this YouCaring crowd-sharing fund link. Personal friends and family of the firefighters started the online fundraiser. More than $7,000 was raised as of Monday afternoon.

If you're able to donate blood, the American Red Cross is encouraging donations to fully meet the needs of hospital patients in the coming days and weeks. Your donation could help save a life. The American Red Cross is thanking those who come to give blood or platelets between now and Aug. 31 by emailing them a $5 ‪#‎Amazon‬ gift card claim code. Make your appointment to #‎GiveNow‬:, Blood Donor App at or 1-800-RED CROSS.

Be a Helper

Help Habitat for Humanity identify low-income families in need. If you or someone you know is a low-income family or individual whose home has been affected by the Sand Canyon fire through from direct fire damage or collateral damage such as smoke damage to home or furniture, water damage from helicopter water drops or fire retardant damage, please contact Habitat SCV/SFV at 818-884-8808.

If you have friends or family still in danger of being evacuated, remind them of these SIX "P"s of preparedness:
  • People and pets (and pet food)
  • Papers, phone numbers, and important documents
  • Prescriptions, vitamins, and eyeglasses
  • Pictures and irreplaceable memorabilia
  • Personal computers (information on hard drive and disks)
  • "Plastic" (credit cards, ATM cards) and cash


Once rebuilding has begun, there will be a huge need for volunteers to help in construction and rehabilitation of affected homes. Please contact Donielle DeLeon of Habitat for Humanity at (818) 884-8808 to find out more about volunteer opportunities and needs.

People can volunteer for a burned area response team to mitigate post-fire effects, which include putting up barriers to protect against erosion as well as assisting with debris cleanup.

If you're local and good with animals, we're told the AV Fairgrounds needs volunteers to feed, water, and set up more pens. Contact info below.

Related Information

Palmdale: Highland High School 39055 25th Street West, Palmdale, 93551
Santa Clarita: Hart High School, 24825 N. Newhall, Santa Clarita, 91321
Sylmar: Lakeview Terrace Recreation Center, 11075 Foothill Blvd, Lakeview Terrace, 91340

Small animals/pets: Golden Valley High School, 27051 Robert C. Lee Pkwy, Santa Clarita

Large Animals: Antelope Valley Fairgrounds, 2551 W. Avenue H. Lancaster CA 93536
Since the Hansen Dam Equestrian Center has reached capacity, large animals and livestock can now also be taken to an alternative evacuation site, Pierce College, 6201 Winnetka Ave, Woodland Hills

Over the weekend, community members helped evacuate about 400 animals, including tigers, bobcats and horses from the Wildlife Waystation in Sylmar, but there are still animals in neighboring evacuation zones. The Foothill Trails District Neighborhood Council is looking for volunteers who have trailers, cages and trucks that could transport animals to places like Pierce College.

Local Fire Stations

Thanks to Google, here are the top ten fire station locations that provided the first responders to this wild Sand Fire. LA County has been nothing but impressed with and grateful for these amazing men and women, so if you feel so inclined to send a little thank you note, here are their addresses:

Los Angeles County Fire Station 104  
26201 Golden Valley Rd, Santa Clarita, CA 91350

Los Angeles County Fire Station 123  
26321 Sand Canyon Rd, Santa Clarita, CA 91387

Los Angeles County Fire Station 128  
28450 Whites Canyon Rd, Santa Clarita, CA 91351

Fire Station 108  
28799 Rock Canyon Dr, Santa Clarita, CA 91390

Los Angeles County Fire Station 111
26829 Seco Canyon Rd, Santa Clarita, CA 91350

Los Angeles County Fire Department Station #126  
26320 Citrus St, Santa Clarita, CA 91355

Fire Station
24525 Copper Hill Dr, Santa Clarita, CA 91390

Los Angeles County Fire Station 150  
19190 Golden Valley Rd, Canyon Country, CA 91387

Los Angeles County Fire Department Station 107  
18239 Soledad Canyon Rd, Canyon Country, CA 91351

Los Angeles County Fire Station #124  
25870 Hemingway Ave, Stevenson Ranch, CA 91381

Please let them know you are a member of #TeamITLT
by including our website on your card or envelope!

Also, we'd love to see your creative efforts, so tag us and hashtag us
so that we may #regram your photos!


Many thanks to Matt Johnson for his stunning photographs, each of which were taken from his home near the edge of the Sand Fire. We are relieved and happy to share that Matt and his family are safe.
 Matt Johnson, photographer
twitter: @TheInfiniteEnd