With the Thomas fire close to becoming the worst wildfire in California history, public agencies have joined forces to gather both monetary and physical item donations for disaster relief.
The United Way of Santa Barbara County has collaborated with United Way of Ventura County to directly support those individuals and families affected by the Thomas fire, which sparked Dec. 4.
The United Way of Santa Barbara County is accepting monetary donations at www.unitedwaythomasfirefund.org. People can also text "UWVC" at 41444.
United Way officials have assured people that 100 percent of proceeds to the Thomas Fire Fund will go directly to recipients including residents of homes destroyed by the fire and evacuees who are being temporarily housed at local shelters.
Monetary donations also can be made to the American Red Cross by visiting www.redcross.org, or by texting "redcross" to 90999.
Nonperishable food, new clothing, toiletries and monetary donations also are being accepted at the American Red Cross, Foodbank of Santa Barbara County, Salvation Army and Unity Shoppe.
Used clothing, bedding and toys are not being accepted.
The Foodbank of Santa Barbara County is accepting nonperishable foods and fresh produce at 490 W. Foster Road in Santa Maria, as well as at 4554 Hollister Ave. and 1525 State St. in Santa Barbara.
The Salvation Army is also accepting donations on behalf of those affected by the Thomas fire. Unopened and canned food and monetary donations are accepted at 423 Chapala St. in Santa Barbara.
The Unity Shoppe is accepting new clothing, shoes, blankets, toiletries and monetary donations at 1219 State St.
Officials said that while firefighters appreciate that the community wants to make donations of food, clothing and money to them, they ask that those donations be redirected to organizations such as the American Red Cross, Foodbank of Santa Barbara County, etc.
For those donating financially, officials warn that individuals often take advantage of the situation by setting up fake GoFundMe fundraising sites. Donors are advised to call and verify that the beneficiary is authentic before donating.