Editor’s Note: Since this story was published, the Thomas Fire has become the largest wildfire on record in California’s history.
Now classified as the second largest in California history, the Thomas fire has had a devastating impact on everyone and everything in its path.
With much of our adventure sports and surf community concentrated in this zone, it makes those effects even harder to accept. For Thom Hill, founder of Iron & Resin, the fires have propelled him to launch the Help California relief effort, a grassroots team of “neighbors helping neighbors” providing on-the-ground communication, supply deliveries and donations were they are needed most.
Hill’s team is out in the field, helping distribute essentials, and have received a stream of support from many volunteers and other companies such as Almond Surfboards, Quiksilver, Biltwell, Arbor, Zeal, Raen, Richer Poorer, Yeti, Barebones, Parks Project, Patagonia, Shwood, and Obey to name just a few.
On Friday, December 22, Hill is hosting a silent auction at Iron & Resin headquarters in downtown Ventura, with all proceeds going to those impacted by the fire.
For anyone who can’t get on the ground to help, a GoFundMe campaign has been started to gather donations, and has already seen a significant outpouring of support in just the few weeks it’s been underway.
We caught up with Hill to understand what’s happening right now in Ventura and how anyone reading this can get involved with the relief efforts.
What type of support have you been receiving through your campaign so far?
Our Help California relief effort is only a few weeks old, but so far we've raised over $70k in cash and product donations. Private individuals as well as many of our brand partners and other companies in the surf, moto and outdoor community have generously donated. We also have a small army of volunteers that show up every day from sun up to well after dark supporting the effort both at our pop-up command post and out in the field.
Friends and strangers from near and far have shown up to lend a hand. It's been truly amazing to see our community rally and the support this effort has received.
How many volunteers have come forward to support those efforts? How many/who are coming forward from Ventura’s close-knit surf community?
On any given day we have between 20-30 volunteers. Some have traveled from as far away as Oregon, Northern California and all over Southern California, just showing up ready to work. Several of our volunteers are even among those most affected by the fires, losing their homes and everything they owned. Yet they show up to volunteer every day. Many of our volunteers are tied into the local surf community or work in the industry.
Yesterday the girls from @herewithmagazine dropped off a truck load of donations they collected for us down in Orange County. Then they went and helped our crew demo some fences out at Painted Pony Farm the rest of the day. Thanks so much for all your help! We truly appreciate it! #helpcalifornia #neighborshelpingneighbors
How closely are volunteers working with the city and fire teams to coordinate the relief efforts?
Our ground strike crews have been working closely with fire and emergency services in the field, clearing downed trees from roads and helping to provide both residents and emergency responders with access to property.
During the heat of the fire, they were also providing support on the ground for fire services, putting out spot fires, clearing brush and creating fire breaks, especially in areas under-resourced by fire crews. Lots of our ground crew volunteers are off-season fire hot shots and have the training and gear to be super effective in these conditions.
What is the best way for people in and outside of Ventura to get involved and get on the ground helping these efforts? What should they bring with them and be prepared for if they are planning to help?
Currently we have a GoFundMe page where people can donate. We can always use volunteers, both in the field helping families with clean up and recovery, as well as in our command post, organizing and dispersing donations.
How do you see this effort continuing to unfold in the coming months as people in this area begin the road to recovery? How will Iron & Resin play a role in this moving forward?
As the air clears here and the fire is brought under control, our long-term mission will be to identify and help individuals and families most impacted by the fire.
In the early days and weeks of the fire, everyone needed some sort of help. In the coming weeks and months, many of these people will receive support and be able to start rebuilding their lives. However, many residents who lost everything are without insurance or a support network to help them get their lives back to some normalcy. This is where our focus will be.
As we start to 'adopt' families, we'll be helping them to assess and take care of their most pressing needs. Everything from clearing debris and rebuilding, and providing them shelter and clothing, to making sure their kids have gifts to open for Christmas. We have a lot of work to do, but together we're making a difference.
Help California is filling the holes that large organizations simply cannot address. There is a great amount of support as well as a great amount of people in need, but they are simply not connected. We thrive on the connection. We build on these connections.
We are in this for the long haul, and because needs are constantly changing, our team is always adapting. We believe in the trickle down, that every home or ranch we get closer to being up and running means they can help their neighbors, re-employ their workers, and function as an extension of our team, helping whomever comes next.
Our efforts are made possible by volunteer manpower and monetary donations that can be turned into tomorrow's solutions. We are constantly updating our list of needed donations, which currently can all be found at our local hardware store. We also need you and your friends: man power is real power, and there is always work to be done. Follow @helpcalifornia to stay updated on what comes next.
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