CUs Step Up To Help Fire Victims

credit unions help fire victims

As firefighters slowly gain the upper hand on the deadly Camp and Woolsey fires in California, credit unions are stepping up to help, not only their affected members but the impacted communities as well.

The Camp Fire in Butte County has now become the deadliest fire in California history, killing 77 people as of Nov. 19. It also has burned more than 150,000 acres, destroyed more than 10,000 homes and commercial buildings, and decimated the town of Paradise as well as nearby Concow and Magalia. Nearly 1,000 people remain missing. It is only 65 percent contained. The Woolsey Fire—which started in Los Angeles County and crossed over into Ventura County—is now 91 percent contained. It has charred nearly 100,000 acres, killed at least three people, and destroyed 1,452 structures. The Hill Fire in Ventura County, which started the same day as the Woolsey Fire, is now 100 percent contained, having burned more than 4,500 acres. One looming threat: rain forecasted to arrive this week. 

Sierra Central CU, whose branch in Paradise survived the Camp Fire (although CEO John Cassidy is not sure if it suffered any smoke damage), has thousands of members and several employees impacted.

In an email Cassidy said: “My team of Sierra Central employees have jumped in to assist our members and the Paradise community and all the evacuation centers in Northern California.”

The credit union has partnered with its long-time spokesperson and former Sacramento King, Harold Pressley, and his foundation—which along with California Assemblyman James Gallagher and successful business leaders throughout the affected areas—is trying to get much needed dollars and resources to families and individuals directly and significantly affected by the fire. Sierra Central has donated $20,000 to the fund. If you would like to donate, click here.

More than 50 firefighters throughout the state have lost their homes so the Fire Family Foundation, the charitable arm of Firefighters First CU, is accepting donations to help them. The Foundation offers financial help to firefighters and their families in times of need due to disaster, illness, or death. One hundred percent of donations goes directly to support the Fire Family. Donations may be made online or mailed to the Foundation office, 815 Colorado Blvd., Los Angeles, CA 90041.

“When the North Bay fires devastated residents last year, SMCU was among the many local businesses that donated to the cause” said San Mateo CU CEO Wade Painter in a news release. “Now, in the midst of another disaster, we’re staying true to the credit union philosophy of ‘People Helping People’. To amplify our donation, we’ve teamed up with our soon-to-be neighbor, Half Moon Bay Brewing Company (SMCU is opening a branch in Half Moon Bay in the spring of 2019). Our hearts are with all those impacted by the Camp Fire, and we wish everyone a safe and happy Thanksgiving.”

On Thanksgiving Day, Half Moon Bay Brewing Company will donate proceeds from all food sales to the North Valley Community Foundation fund, helping those impacted by the Camp Fire. San Mateo CU will match, dollar for dollar, all funds raised at this special event. Half Moon Bay Brewing Company has guaranteed a minimum donation of $10,000, so with SMCU’s match, at least $20,000 will be raised for families in need. The Thanksgiving Day Fundraiser at Half Moon Bay Brewing Company, 390 Capistrano Road in Half Moon Bay, will take place on Thursday, Nov. 22, from 11 a.m. to 4:45 p.m. and reservations are recommended at If you are unable to attend but would still like to help, you can donate here.

For up-to-date information on the impact of the fires on credit unions as well as a list of other ways to help fire victims, please visit the Leagues’ Disaster Relief page.

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