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Tzu Chi Foundation raises millions of dollars for 2018 wildfire victims

  • The Woolsey Fire swept through parts of Los Angeles and Ventura Counties from Nov. 8 to Nov. 21, 2018. Public domain photo courtesy of USDA Forest Service.

  • L.A. County Office of Emergency Management's Jeff Reeb is honored by the Tzu Chi foundation for his work in responding to the Woolsey Fire. Photo by Phoenix Tso.

  • Monterey Park Mayor Peter Chan (second from left) is honored for his assistance in providing relief to those affected by the Woolsey Fire. Photo by Phoenix Tso.


El Monte , CA United States

The Tzu Chi Foundation plans to give $10 million worth of supplies and financial assistance to those affected by wildfires that afflicted northern and southern California this past November.

Tzu Chi volunteers have so far distributed around $4 million in debit cards, blankets, scarves and other supplies to victims of the Camp and Woolsey fires, according to a press release. The Buddhist service foundation also asked the public to help raise $10 million in total in order to help 10,000 families by Christmas, said Tzu Chi spokesperson Sabrina Ho at a Wednesday morning press conference.

The Woolsey Fire broke out in the Malibu-area of Los Angeles County, killing three people and destroying 1,800 homes. The Camp Fire broke out north of Sacramento, killing 83 people and destroying 18,000 homes in what has become known as the most destructive wildfire in California history.

The organization also presented first responders and local leaders who helped in wildfire relief efforts with gift baskets from 99 Rank Supermarket. One recipient, Jeff Reeb, director of L.A. County’s Office of Emergency Management, said that Tzu Chi’s efforts were especially essential in helping less wealthy families affected by the Woolsey Fire in the northwestern part of L.A. County.

“You’re helping people avoid homelessness by providing the immediate aide that you do,” Reeb said.

“The Woolsey Fire was close to home,” said Tony Ramirez, assistant fire chief of the Los Angeles County Fire Department and another Tzu Chi honoree. “We’re really thankful for all the efforts that were done to help the citizens of L.A. County.”

Monterey Park Mayor Peter Chan and L.A. County Supervisor Hilda Solis were also honored.

Tzu Chi Executive Vice President Jackson Chen met a lot of people who had lost their homes and were in great financial need in northern California, where the Camp fire was. Despite the fact that the organization was only able to distribute $500 to $800 to affected families, volunteers also provided essential emotional support. “We raised [their] spirit, saying, ‘Look, you are not alone,'” he said.

Volunteers like Chen paid for their own transportation and lodging so that as much money as possible would go to those in need.

To learn more about donating to the Tzu Chi Foundation’s wildfire relief efforts, visit tzuchi.us.

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