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Online donations aid fire victims

Posted: November 27, 2008 7:13 p.m.
Updated: November 28, 2008 4:55 a.m.
 

If you've felt moved to donate household items to recent fire victims who were left with nothing but ashes, the state of California can help you do so with a click of the mouse.

Under a system developed by the Governor's Office of Emergency Services, donors can provide "in-kind products" - tangible goods and services - which are matched directly with appropriate private nonprofit organizations.

"Essentially, we are a conduit - a private-public portal - between the donors and the nonprofits," said Tom Maruyama, state coordinating officer for the federal wildfire disasters. "We've partnered with dozens of charitable organizations including the American Red Cross, the Salvation Army, the United Way, food banks and others to maximize assistance to disaster victims."

California uses the national nonprofit Aidmatrix Network, which is partially funded by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).

In the aftermath of the devastating fires, in-kind household goods such as appliances, bedding, cleaning kits or furniture are needed most by those requiring alternative housing prior to rebuilding.

Donors offer their goods online. The offers are reviewed for suitability before being accepted for delivery to the appropriate charity.

"The Aidmatrix Network is a nationwide, Web-based donations management tool used by federal and state emergency managers to connect donors with those in need," said Mark Neveau, federal coordinating officer.

Donors should visit the Web site www.oes.ca.gov and click on the "how to donate" link.

"The electronic system ensures the donated goods go where they are intended," Neveau said. "The process for donating is fully explained."

Right now, food donations are not urgently needed for wildfire survivors. Cash donations can be made through the California Volunteers Web site at www.californiavolunteers.org.

Click on "how you can help" in the Southern California Fires section.

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