Credit: Worldnes Easybranches
California’s summer and autumn months plunge the state into an unbelievable dry-spell annually. Wildfires are unfortunately commonplace in the Golden State, as the dry terrain easily bursts into flames from even the tiniest ember. People lose their homes and belongings every year to the destruction, but the 2018 wildfire season, however, was the most destructive one in California record.
Over the course of just a few months, 7,500 fires scorched more than 1,600,000 acres of California’s beautiful scenery. Mountains, grasslands, and communities were engulfed in flame. The damage burnt homes to the ground, but even more devastatingly, took nearly 100 lives. We saw a number of celebrities reporting the effects the fires had on their own lives, allowing the tragedy to take on a mainstream effect.
But in the wake of so much ruin, stories of hope always emerge. While donations cannot replace personal belongings, lost memories, and loved ones, they can soften the blow, if only a little. They instill a reminder in the affected that, no matter how hard things get, they are not alone. There are people in the world who care—even complete strangers. In light of the tragedy, many celebrities donated their own time and money to help those in need.
Singer-songwriter Miley Cyrus and her fiancée, Liam Hemsworth, donated $500,000 through Cyrus’ charity, the Happy Hippie Foundation. Hemsworth and Cyrus had a personal stake in their joint donation—they lost their home to the Woolsey Fire. The couple and their animals were unharmed, and Cyrus stated that they were among the “lucky ones.” Their funds will be used to provide support to those in financial need, emergency relief assistance, community building, and further wildfire prevention tactics.
The same Woolsey Fire forced Lady Gaga to evacuate her home. With a clear understanding of the emotions many displaced evacuees were feeling, Gaga delivered boxes of hot coffee, boxes of pizza, and gift cards to those stationed in a shelter. She spent time with many of the evacuees individually and delivered a heart-felt speech to the crowd of the effected.
“I extend my love … I know we do not know each other, but I love you. This is an emergency, but you are not alone.”
Lady Gaga was not alone in her efforts to directly be there for those effected. Business mogul and reality-television star, Khloe Kardashian, pushed through the smoke and ash to pick up supplies for the firefighters working to contain the flames. Kardashian posted a series of Instagram stories that showed her buying water, beef jerky, and other supplies in bulk, and then dropping off said items at her local station. She shared the list of needed supplies to her millions of followers in hopes that they would be inspired to do the same.
TV-host Ellen DeGeneres also commented on the bravery of the thousands of firefighters who rushed into action to save the thousands and people, animals, and homes from burning to the ground. Her own brother-in-law is one of those courageous men. Through reaching out to Walmart, DeGeneres was able to secure a $100,000 donation to the Los Angeles Fire Department Foundation, which went directly to wildfire efforts and supplies.
“I just want to point out that a lot of the homes that are making the headlines are big celebrity mansions,” DeGeneres added during her show, “but thousands of people of all different backgrounds have been affected by these fires.”
Dave Grohl, lead singer of Foo Fighters and former drummer of Nirvana, was inspired by the brave men and women who tirelessly battled the fires for days on end. With his newest venture, a barbecue chain, Grohl traveled to multiple stations and cooked the firefighters a hearty meal to get them through their trials. The restaurant’s Instagram page includes several pictures of Grohl with the firefighters, as well as links to each of their stations, so that anyone who may want to donate to these specific stations, can.
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To all the @losangelesfiredepartment and @lacountyfd heroes we met last night…thank you. It was an honor to cook for you. – Dave . https://www.lafd.org/fire-stations/station-73 . https://www.lafd.org/fire-stations/station-81 . https://www.lafd.org/fire-stations/station-83 . https://www.lafd.org/fire-stations/station-68 . https://www.lafd.org/fire-stations/station-89 . https://locator.lacounty.gov/fire/Location/3046512/los-angeles-county-fire-department—station-125 . #backbeatbbq
In the wake off the mass damage, Oscar-winning actress Sandra Bullock donated $100,000 to The Humane Society of Ventura County to help our furry friends effected by the flames. Many were unable to take their animals with them as they fled their homes, leaving them no choice but to leave the poor creatures with the humane society. The funds provided assistance to those “on the frontline rescuing animals,” allowing the human society to provide 24/7 care to a wide number of pets—from the smallest cat, to bulls on a farm.
Green Bay Packers quarterback, Aaron Rodgers, was born and raised in central California city, Paradise. The Camp Fire practically swallowed the city whole, burning down more buildings and taking more lives than any other fire in the history of the state. Heartbroken by the damage, Rodgers donated one million dollars towards the recovery and rebuilding of the community he grew up in.
In a tweet announcing the news, Rodgers revealed that for every retweet, State Farm Insurance would donate one dollar, though he encouraged others to donate on their own as well.
Please take a minute to watch this and if you can, take a few seconds to retweet this using the #retweet4good
All the money goes to a great organization for the immediate needs and the recovery efforts for the #CampFireParadise
Thank you 🙏🏻 #ButteStrong #payitforward pic.twitter.com/iQjMbUIHcI
— Aaron Rodgers (@AaronRodgers12) November 21, 2018
By Thanksgiving, a large portion of the flames were contained to a manageable level. For Californians, this was a massive weight lifted off their shoulders. While people across the state were finally allowed to return to their homes, many no longer had a home to return to. What is supposed to be a joyous time dedicated to looking back on the year and giving thanks to all the good that came their way became a painful reminder of what they couldn’t have for many.
However, celebrity chefs Tyler Florence, José Andrés, and Guy Fieri would not let these thousands of people go without one of the most important meals of the year. Joined by 800 volunteers, the chefs prepared 15,000 Thanksgiving dinners for those effected by the fires in Paradise. With six smokers, around 7,000 pounds of turkey were cooked and served.
“The least we can be doing today, on Thanksgiving, is all coming together to show the people what they deserve: love and support, one plate of food at a time,” José Andrés said in a twitter video.
Though the fires have been mostly contained, thousands of people face a combined millions of dollars of damage to clean up and rebuild whole communities. While most of us cannot fly out to the Golden State to be right there to provide help, we can still donate. Every dollar can help a family in need.