Want to donate to wildfire relief? Be mindful of what and where you donate

Evacuees walk in to the Willow Community Center's Red Cross Disaster Relief Shelter on Sunday,...
Evacuees walk in to the Willow Community Center's Red Cross Disaster Relief Shelter on Sunday, August 18. (KTUU) (KTUU)
Published: Aug. 20, 2019 at 6:21 PM AKDT
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Many Alaskans have been stepping up to show support for their friends and neighbors -- as well as for firefighters from Alaska and Outside who have been working tirelessly to protect property and lives.

But managers and volunteers say that some donations are less welcome than others.

Fire managers say that they don't have any need for material donations.

"We're set with supplies," says Michelle Weston, a public information officer working on the McKinley Fire.

Instead, Weston suggests that residents, especially those living along the major roadways near the fire, give something that is in shorter supply near the end of this exhausting fire season.

"Put out signs to thank the firefighters," she says, "That's a huge morale boost, especially for the Alaska firefighters who have been out all summer."

Another thing that can help to boost the moral is pre-stamped post cards, which Outside firefighters can easily send to their loved ones back home, and thank you letters that firefighters can read at mealtimes. Those can be dropped off at the command post at the Willow Community Center.

Weston does say that donating water and Gatorade to local volunteer fire departments can be a huge help, but that the wildland crews are well stocked with supplies -- and don't need the extra burden of unneeded supplies or equipment.

However, one thing that you can do to support the wildland crews is to donate to the

which helps support the families of firefighters killed during their service, as well as supporting injured wildland firefighters.

For residents wishing to donate to displaced victims, the American Red Cross says that they are asking residents to hold off on material donations as well -- at least until they get a donation center set up.

Instead, they say that donating money to the

is the best way to support relief efforts. Regional Red Cross communications director Cari Dighton says that financial donations allow the most efficient use of resources.

"If they need a specific item -- glasses or a specific medication -- we can get that for them," says Dighton.

She also says that people can volunteer by registering on the

Whether it be for this disaster or the next, Dighton says that those interested in volunteering should begin registration as soon as they can.

"90% of our disaster workforce is volunteers," she says, "So it's a really important part of our work."

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