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The past week has been horrific for Thousand Oaks, California and its neighbors.
Last Wednesday night, 12 people were killed at Borderline Bar and Grill during a weekly event for local colleges. This horrible tragedy shocked and devastated our community. Before the community had much time to grieve, another emergency began.
By Thursday afternoon, two fires – known as the Woolsey Fire and the Hill Fire – broke out. The Hill Fire didn’t advance too far, but the Woolsey Fire spread quickly, forcing thousands of residents from their homes. The fire affected several towns in the area, including Thousand Oaks, Westlake Village, Oak Park, Agoura Hills, Malibu and Calabasas among others. Hundreds of structures have burned; our neighbors have lost their homes and lives.
I was born in Thousand Oaks and lived in the community until I left for college. Today I live nearby in Los Angeles. The suburban towns of the Conejo Valley are usually quiet communities. Full of oak trees, surrounded by mountains, with plenty of open space, it’s a great place to call home. These back-to-back tragedies have stunned the community and its neighbors.
While the fire is still not out as of this posting, recovery efforts have started. In these difficult times, people often want to lend a hand. Whether you live near or far, there are things you can do to help these communities.
Here are some things you can do to help those affected by these tragedies in Thousand Oaks and its neighboring communities.
If you live in the area:
1. Drop off items to donate
One thing you can do is drop off items for families or animals displaced by the fire. There are a few different places accepting donations. For example, Chabad of the Conejo is collecting new or like new clothing and other items at 30345 Canwood St., Agoura Hills, CA 9130. To donate items for animals displaced by the fire, contact local animal shelters or humane societies to find out what items they need, such as the Humane Society of Ventura County.
You can also donate gifts to shooting victims and their families by sending them to the Thousand Oaks Police Department. Cards, care packages, or any non-perishable gifts can be sent to the department at 2101 E Olsen Rd., Thousand Oaks, CA 91360.
2. Volunteer/participate in a community event
There are several events in the works to aid families affected by the shooting and the fire.
There is the All Day Fundraiser to Benefit the Victims from Borderline at Bandits Grill and Bar in Thousand Oaks on Thursday from 11 a.m. to 9 a.m. The restaurant will be donating 100% of its proceeds that day. Click here to see the event on Facebook.
The Woolsey Fire, Borderline Community Thanksgiving is taking place at Proactive Sports Performance in Westlake Village on Friday evening. They are looking for volunteers and accepting donations. Click here for more information.
I have also seen many organizations in other counties and states that are accepting donations to send to victims here, so you may also be able to donate items that way, even if you’re not in the area.
3. Foster an animal
Animal organizations that have taken in displaced animals are looking for people to help foster them. Visit the Humane Society of Ventura County or Los Angeles County Animal Care Foundation or check out a local foster animal organization. This article also has many suggestions.
Above: Smoke begins to drift over homes in Westlake Village last Thursday.
If you don’t live in the area (or those options aren’t right for you):
1. Donate to GoFundMe
One of the most direct ways to help families in need is through GoFundMe. To find families in need, you can search for the name of the disaster. For victims of the Borderline shooting, click here. For those affected by the Woolsey fire, click here.
2. Use Facebook
There are also donation pages available on Facebook where you can donate to those in need. Click here for a donation page for Borderline Bar and Grill victims. Click here for a donation page for those affected by the Woolsey fire.
3. Support firefighters
You can also make a donation to directly help the firefighters in these communities. Our firefighters and first responders have worked tirelessly to save lives and homes. Make a donation to an organization that supports them, such as the Los Angeles Fire Department Foundation.
4. Aid animal organizations
Several local animal organizations have taken in pets and large animals displaced by the fire. You can donate funds to help them care for the animals. Some of these organizations are the Ventura County Humane Society and Pasadena Humane Society & SPCA.
5. Donate to relief organizations
While this list is a start, there are several other organizations and individuals working hard to help the communities affected by these tragedies. If you have any other suggestions, please leave a comment.
Thank you for anything you can do to help Thousand Oaks and its neighbors.