Please Help CU Staff and Victims Impacted by the Wildfires

Camp Fire

While the Camp and Woolsey fires in California have just recently been fully contained, efforts by credit unions to help those impacted recover have long been underway. And there are ways you can help those more directly affected by these deadly fires.

The Camp Fire in Butte County is now the deadliest fire in California history, killing 88 people as of Nov. 27, with more than 200 still unaccounted for. It burned more than 153,000 acres, destroyed more than 18,000 homes and commercial buildings, and decimated the town of Paradise as well as nearby Concow and Magalia. The Woolsey Fire—which started in Los Angeles County and crossed over into Ventura County—charred nearly 97,000 acres, killed three people, and destroyed at least 1,500 structures. One looming threat for the burn areas: rain that is due later this week. The rain that fell last week fortunately did little damage though it did hamper some serarch efforts in Northern California.

Sierra Central CU's branch in Paradise was "virtually untouched" by the Camp Fire, according to CEO John Cassidy. The landscaping around the building was affected, "but that's it," he said, though it has not reopened due to safety and health reasons.

However, five of the branch's six employees lost everything, Cassidy said. In addition, several of the credit union's 3,900 members in Paradise have been affected. Sierra Central has granted 140 payment extensions as well as 41 emergency loans so far. 

To help their colleagues, Sierra Central employees collected money which the credit union matched. The drive raised $22,000 to help the affected employees, Cassidy said. 

In addition, the credit union partnered with its long-time spokesperson and former Sacramento King, Harold Pressley, and his Treat'Em Like a King (TLK) 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 affected by the fire. Sierra Central donated $20,000 to the SCCU/TLK Foundation Camp Fire Relief Fund. So far business partners, companies, and credit unions have pledged $200,000 to the fund, Cassidy said. But with nearly 14,000 homes destroyed, much more is needed.  One hundred percent of funds collected will be distributed through local non-profit organizations to Camp Fire survivors.  Fpr more information and to donate, click here.

More than 50 firefighters throughout the state lost their homes in these recent fires, 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. 

On its Twitter page, Meriwest CU said it donated to the North Valley Community Foundation, which also is providing Camp Fire relief. Also helping this Foundation is San Mateo CU. The credit union partnered with the Half Moon Bay Brewing Company for its special Thanksgiving day fundraiser. The company donated proceeds from all food sales to the North Valley Community Foundation.  San Mateo CU was to match, dollar for dollar, all funds raised at this special event. Half Moon Bay Brewing Company guaranteed a minimum donation of $10,000, so with SMCU’s match, at least $20,000 was expected to be raised for families in need. 

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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