As evacuations continue throughout neighboring foothill communities affected by the Butte Fire, local residents and organizations are coming together to provide support through donations to relief agencies and by providing much-needed supplies for displaced fire victims.
The Turlock Journal started collecting donations for victims of the fire Monday night. By Tuesday afternoon, at least 10 families had brought in a mountain of items.
Sharon Deleray and her daughters Danielle Taff and Alyssa Holly brought in blankets, diapers, bottled water, toothbrushes and toothpaste and a giant bag of dog food, among other items.
"We just like to do things like this," said Deleray.
Holly, whose dad is a firefighter, said that she has friends who have been affected by the fire.
"Although my friends are okay, some people don't have places to go," said Holly. "It must be hard for them."
The Journal will be collecting supplies from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. through Friday at 138 S. Center St. The donations will be taken to the San Joaquin Fairgrounds on Saturday, where volunteers will deliver the supplies to evacuation centers in Lake, Amador and Calaveras counties.
Denair High School and Denair Middle School are both collecting donations of clothing, toiletries, water, non-perishable food, blankets and other basic necessities.
At the high school, student Destiny Silva organized the effort. At the middle school, campus supervisor Melissa Oei – who used to live in Valley Springs, not far from the fire — is spearheading donations. Oei has friends who have lost their homes in the area, when students in the leadership club found out they decided to pitch in.
Donations will be accepted at the main offices of both schools between 7:30 a.m. and 4 p.m. today and Thursday and until 11 a.m. Friday.
Silva and her family intend to take what is collected to one of the relief stations in Calaveras County. Middle school Principal Travis Manley said he will drive the goods from his campus to Calaveras County.
The American Red Cross is operating evacuee centers for people displaced by the Butte and Valley fires. To donate to Red Cross relief efforts, call 1-800-Red-Cross or text the word REDCROSS to 90999 to make a $10 donation.