With more than 3,000 people now forced from their homes by B.C. wildfires, charities are gearing up to help.
Those who want to make a donation should, first and foremost, ensure they are dealing with a reputable organization.
The Canadian Red Cross has opened an official appeal for B.C. wildfire victims.
The organization prefers cash donations, which it says are the most effective way to quickly get help to affected communities.
Those funds can be used for cots, blankets and family reunification, as well as for food, clothing and personal needs.
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The Red Cross is not the only group that people can donate to if they would like to help.
Donations are also being accepted through the following organizations:
The province says it is also working on a plan to manage assistance that has been offered and to organize donations going forward, with details expected in the coming days.
However, it says that many municipalities and evacuation centres may not be able to accept donated material goods.
If people do have material items to donate, they may be able to get them to fire victims through a grassroots volunteer organization called The Postmen.
The group, which originally formed in response to the Fort McMurray wildfires, has been accepting non-perishable food, personal hygiene items, pet items and gift cards, and delivering them to fire evacuees. It is not a registered charity, nor does it accept cash.
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The province is also offering tips for would-be donors to avoid scammers:
- Avoid giving cash or using wire transfer services. Cheques should be made out to an organization, not an individual.
- Donations made online should only be done on secure websites.
- When asked for donations (over the phone, through an email or in person), ask the canvasser for identification or printed information about the charity.
- Beware of high-pressure tactics. A legitimate charity will still be there tomorrow. Feel free to take the information and sleep on it.
- Do an internet search for the charity’s name and background.
- If you have concerns about the activities of a charitable organization, including its fundraising practices, call the Canada Revenue Agency: 1 877 442-2899.