Solving Problems Kim Lachance Shandrow  | October 19, 2017

Businesses Rush to Aid California Wildfire Survivors (And How You Can Help, Too)

Raging wildfires continue to burn across Northern California, and the toll continues to mount. At least 42 lives have been lost and approximately 22,000 people displaced as the unrelenting flames have destroyed entire neighborhoods to the tune of more than 5,700 homes across several counties, according to state officials.

As 13 massive wildfires in the Golden State continue to burn, many companies — and the people behind them — are lending a helping hand not only to those who have lost their homes, but to thousands of firefighters and evacuees as well.

In recognition of the inspiring assistance many enterprises offered in response to the record-breaking fires, here’s a brief roundup of companies rising to the occasion:

Facebook, Google and Apple Respond With Emergency Resources and Funds
Locally headquartered tech legacy companies Apple, Google and Facebook were quick to donate funds to aid wildfire recovery efforts in their home communities and beyond.

Facebook co-founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg announced last week that his Menlo Park, Calif.-based social media company would pitch in $1 million in donations “to help rebuild.” The funds will be allocated amongst several charitable funds and foundations, including the Red Cross California Wildfires Fund. The company also issued a Facebook Safety Check feature, which enables people in areas where the fires are burning to mark themselves as safe online.

Google, anchored out of Mountain View, Calif., also donated funds to provide critical resources to those affected by the wildfires. The Internet pioneer established a $1 million grant through its charitable arm,

Additionally, Google’s Crisis Response team rushed to create an SOS Alert system, which includes a special set of features in Google Maps and Google Search designed to help users “quickly understand what’s going on and decide what to do during a crisis.”

Google also rolled out a satellite image-enhanced Crisis Map that shows wildfire shelter locations, emergency pet lodging locations and evacuee shelter vacancies, all crowdsourced through Google employees, local volunteers and Waze. With an eye on air quality, in many places rendered noxious from ash and smoke blowing off of the wildfires, the company is also providing air-quality information via Google Feed. The resource is continually updated with data from the American Lung Association and the Bay Area Air Quality Management District.

For Apple’s part, the Cupertino, Calif.-based company donated $1 million to various wildfire relief efforts on top of matching employee donations at a rate of two-for-one. Apple CEO Tim Cook expressed on his Twitter feed that his thoughts and prayers are “with Bay Area friends and neighbors affected by the wildfires.”

Redwood Credit Union Launches Fire Relief Fund
In partnership with California Senator Mike McGuire and local newspaper The Press Democrat, the Santa Rosa, Calif.-based Redwood Credit Union (RCU) has created the 2017 North Bay Fire Relief Fund to assist wildfire victims and relief efforts in the counties of Sonoma, Mendocino, Lake, Solano, Marin and Napa. The credit union has pledged to foot all of the fund’s administrative costs. The fund has raised more than $4 million in tax-deductible donations thus far.

“Our hearts go out to everyone affected by the fires,” RCU president and CEO Brett Martinez told The Press Democrat. “We know there’s a long road ahead, but the message to those who have lost so much is this: Your community cares and is with you.”

To donate to the fund, click here.

Local Drycleaner Cleans Firefighters’ and Other Responders’ Uniforms For Free
Empire Cleaners, located on 203 Santa Rosa Ave. in Santa Rosa, Calif., has offered to clean all uniforms belonging to firefighters, California Highway Patrol officers, and police officers and EMT technicians who are battling fires or assisting with relief efforts in the North Bay area free of charge. The service will be available until the local wildfires are contained.

For more information about Empire Cleaners, click here.

To donate to the Red Cross to assist those impacted by the California wildfires, click here.