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Red Cross overloaded with donations

Posted: July 26, 2016 8:00 p.m.
Updated: July 26, 2016 8:00 p.m.
Firefighter Josh Tibbett, left, and Scorpion marketing manager Parisse Villalobos stack some of the donated water bottles, drinks and snacks that were delivered in five pickup trucks to the Los Angeles County Fire Station 149 in Castaic on Tuesday. Signal photo by Dan Watson. Firefighter Josh Tibbett, left, and Scorpion marketing manager Parisse Villalobos stack some of the donated water bottles, drinks and snacks that were delivered in five pickup trucks to the Los Angeles County Fire Station 149 in Castaic on Tuesday. Signal photo by Dan Watson.
Firefighter Josh Tibbett, left, and Scorpion marketing manager Parisse Villalobos stack some of the donated water bottles, drinks and snacks that were delivered in five pickup trucks to the Los Angeles County Fire Station 149 in Castaic on Tuesday. Signal photo by Dan Watson.
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There is no shortage of support for the Sand fire’s first responders as Santa Clarita Valley community members donate food, water and other supplies, but the need is simply not there. 

“It’s a good problem to have,” said American Red Cross spokesman Jon Myers. “(The community) has come out in full force and been extremely generous … but we’re trying to discourage them from bringing in donations.”

American Red Cross, the organization which is coordinating relief effort for the area, is encouraging people to donate financially instead. Myers said he understands the frustrations of people who want to donate something more tangible and are getting turned away, but financial donations help just as much.

Donations go to the main disaster relief fund, which helps provide blankets, water, food and general operations of the shelters.

It also helps people after the fire, Myers said.

After the fire, the Red Cross makes itself available for case management for people who need emotional support or help getting necessities lost in the fire.

A Santa Clarita Girl Scout troop chose to donate money, which had been set aside for a trip, to the Red Cross disaster relief fund. The troop stopped by Hart High School Tuesday to hand-deliver the money.

Nestle Waters North America donated 37,440 half-liter bottles of Arrowhead Brand Mountain Spring Water to the Los Angeles chapter of the American Red Cross Tuesday. The water will be given to first responders and evacuees.

“As Californians, we all want to do our part when a disaster of this magnitude impacts the community,” said Larry A. Lawrence, natural resource manager for Nestle’s Arrowhead brand in California. “We are proud to support our neighbors and first responders and to provide much-needed water to those directly affected by the blaze.” 

Knowing Red Cross was at capacity for supplies, several organizations and businesses decided to do something on their own.

The Junior Chamber International of Santa Clarita is providing two drop-off locations – at Henry Mayo Fitness and Health and 24/7 Events and Surfaces USA – for residents who want to donate protein bars, nuts, dried fruit, beef jerky and water.

Sharlene Duzick, a spokeswoman of Junior Chamber International, said she spoke to someone who would be able to provide a list of supplies the firefighters need.

“Because they’re on the go constantly, they need something quick and easy to access,” she said.

All donations collected will go to fire stations and will be dispersed to the various firefighter camps.

“We’re very thankful we have individuals out there who put their lives on the line,” Duzick said.

The Associated Student Body of both Saugus and Canyon high schools collected donations earlier this week for the firefighters and those staying at shelters.

“We have a lot of community friends and have a lot of law enforcement friends and family, so I just want to support as much as I can,” said Maria Cuervas of the Saugus ASB.

Latoya Duke reached out to the Red Cross as well, but ended up dropping off donations from Wal-Mart to the ASB.

“We want to make sure that we’re involved in our community,” Duke said.

Scorpion, an internet marketing company, also found a way to give back on Tuesday.

Employees of the company gathered water, Gatorade, protein bars, ChapStick, eye drops, sunscreen, foot powder and socks to drop off to a fire station. The list came from an employee’s father, a city of Los Angeles firefighter currently battling the Sand fire.

“These are things firemen always need,” Parisse Villalobos said.

The donations were initially going to a fire station in Valencia, but it was at capacity before Scorpion arrived Tuesday to drop everything off.

Instead, the supplies went to a fire station in Castaic.

“When you find success, you also need to find opportunities to give back. That's a huge driving force behind the Scorpion culture,” said Scorpion spokeswoman Kylie Patterson.

“This is our home, so it is especially personal to us. We live in this community, some of our employees and our loved ones have been displaced by the fire, and we are intimately connected to the people helping to fight this huge disaster,” she said.

Villalobos noted that even if the supplies are not used in this particular fire, the items do not expire and can be used at another time.

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