Items will go to evacuation centers in nearby areas
As fires continue to ravage California, Northgate Christian Fellowship staff are depending on the kindness of others to ensure that evacuation centers have the items they need.
In the past week, several wildfires have been burning in areas throughout the state, damaging properties, making air quality unhealthy and prompting a state of emergency declaration from Gov. Jerry Brown and a disaster declaration from President Donald Trump. The fires closest in proximity to Solano County have been the Tubbs Fire in Sonoma and Napa counties and the Atlas Fire in Napa County. Due to the Atlas Fire’s close proximity to Solano, Brown issued a state of emergency in the county, and many homes in the Green Valley and Suisun Valley regions of Fairfield were evacuated. In Benicia, shifts in the wind led to smoke being blown in the area Wednesday and a hazy appearance, although no evacuations were ordered.
Many evacuation centers were established near regions that were affected, including Solano Community College in Fairfield. The staff of Northgate is working to collect donations to be distributed to various centers.
Megan Freedman, the director of the church’s Vallejo campus and coordinator of the volunteer effort, said a number of items are being collected. Among these are bottled water, vitamin drinks, hand sanitizer, chapstick, air mattresses, cots, mats, eye drops, toiletries and feminine hygiene products, reusable shopping bags, disposable kitchen supplies, coffee, individually wrapped snacks and unused clothing.
One major desired item, Freedman said, is face masks.
“Stores all over Sonoma, Mendocino, Napa and now Solano County have sold out of those,” she said. “They are needing those, so we would love those.”
Freedman also said that a number of shelters were requesting cots, blankets, pillows and “anything that keeps them from sleeping on the bare ground.”
The church is also seeking a variety of items would be needed for seniors and babies, including Ensure nutritional drinks for seniors and diapers, baby wipes, formula and new clothing for infants. Specifically, Freedman said the church was seeking pouches of baby food so that parents would not have to worry about jars or spoons.
Other items include food that does not need to be prepared and propane tanks for centers that are making meals for evacuees.
“The meals are being cooked on big barbecue grills,” Freedman said. “Many of them are still without power, so that’s how they’re feeding people.”
People can drop their donations off at the church’s Benicia campus at Lake Herman Road. Volunteers will sort through the donations, laid them into trucks and drive them to evacuation centers. Freedman said donations will be accepted all day until 9 p.m., and the church will continue to accept and deliver donations for as long as evacuation centers need them.
For Freedman, the large quantity of donations they have received from the community is a representation of the good of humanity.
“In a situation like this, we are in overload from the many crises that have taken place in our country in the last few weeks that we are seeing the very best of people,” she said. “They are being their most generous, their most polite, their most loving selves.”
Freedman said that while Benicia and Vallejo have not experienced anywhere near the amount of devastation that other communities have, people in the areas have people close to them who have. The church has given people an opportunity to help others.
“What we get to do is be a place of joy where people feel relieved to be able to do something because we feel helpless just watching other people’s lives fall apart around them,” she said. “I am just privileged to be in on this and part of it, and it’s been nothing but good news and wonderful outpouring from this community.”
Northgate is located at 2201 Lake Herman Road. For more information, call the church at 747-5855 or visit its Facebook page at facebook.com/ThisIsNorthgate. For information on how to volunteer, email Connections Director Vanessa Zimmerman at firstname.lastname@example.org. If you know of a family that has been displaced and needs supplies, email Business Administrator Carol Abreu at email@example.com.