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How to help the victims of the Texas wildfires: Whether you're in Austin or not

How to help the victims of the Texas wildfires: Whether you're in Austin or not

Austin Photo Set: News_Shelley Seale_Texas fires_what can you do to help_August 2011_burned house
Hundreds of families will be left without a home in the Texas wildfires. Photo by Russell L. Minton

The scenes of the Texas wildfires' epic devastation can leave one feeling overwhelmed and helpless. There is a lot that can be done to assist Central Texas and the hardest hit areas close to Austin though.

"There are a lot of nonprofits in the area who have sprung to action," says Monica Maldonado Williams of the Austin Community Foundation. "We've set up an emergency fund where people can donate, and 100 percent of their tax-deductible donation will go to area non-profits who are helping with this disaster — many of them small organizations like the Bastrop food bank."

If you'd like to assist those who have been evacuated or lost their homes in these devastating fires, here are some ways to help. Keep in mind, most organizations need money, so consider making a cash donation:

  • Check the home page of Austin Community Foundation to donate to the Central Texas Fire Relief Emergency Fund.
  • Drop off donations at KNBT/KGNB radio station in Austin: Clothing, shoes, new pillows, toiletry items, diapers, blankets, etc. No food items will be accepted. For questions or to volunteer, please contact Megan Hancock at 512-304-8171.
  • Austin's Sweet Dreams Bakery is collecting clothes, toiletries, and pet food to deliver to those in need in Bastrop. Tip jar donations will also be collected. Call 830-626-2253 with any questions.
  • The American Red Cross of Central Texas has set up a page to collect money, food and clothing donations.
  • Texas Forest Service has established the VFD Emergency Assistance Fund to help volunteer fire departments. All proceeds (100 percent) will be distributed to volunteer fire departments via grants for firefighting expenses.
  • Catholic Charities of Central Texas will accept donations for wildfire victims on Tuesday. Donations can be brought to the Diocese of Austin Pastoral Center at 6225 Highway 290 East from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. Donations will also be accepted from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. at Catholic Charities of Central Texas in Austin at 1817 East Sixth Street.
  • Austin Pets Alive is helping with dozens of Bastrop area animals, and needs donations.
  • The Thrift Shop at the Episcopal Church of the Resurrection in Austin is accepting donations for victims. The shop at 2008 Justin Lane will take donations of clothing, housewares and toiletries.
  • Austin Christian Fellowship is taking donations of bottled water, sports drinks, non-perishable snacks, toiletries, work gloves, heavy duty trash bags, flashlights, batteries and pet food. Donations will be accepted at 6401 River Place Boulevard.
  • The Oasis Lake Travis restaurant in the Austin area will be serving as a drop-off point for water, work gloves, toiletries, non-perishable food items, clothing, trash bags, and flashlights with batteries. Location: 6550 Comanche Trail.

For those who are affected by the Bastrop fires, here are several resources:

  • Five shelters are open for Bastrop County residents: Bastrop Middle School, Vandegrift High School, Rouse High School and Smithville Recreation Center. Also Grace Lutheran Church and First Baptist Church in Smithville, and Ascension Catholic Church.
  • A Facebook page has been created, called We Are Okay in Bastrop. This is where people are posting information and looking for answers about houses, pets and family members.
  • YMCA Bastrop offering free child watch for ages 'potty trained' and older. Tuesday to Friday from 10 am to 5 pm at Bastrop Christian Church, 1104 Church St.
  • The Austin Humane Society has taken in many animals from the Bastrop shelter and rescued from homes. If you are looking for your pet, please email sstreif@austinhumanesociety.org with a detailed description.
  • The American Legion in Bastrop is accepting pets and livestock.
  • The U.S. Small Business Administration is offering low interest disaster loans to help people get back on their feet. Loans up to $200,000 are available for homeowners needing to make repairs. Another $40,000 in loans is available to help renters or homeowners replace personal belongings.
  • For more information, call the citizen's information hotline at 512-332-8856 or 512-332-8814.
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