Erika Crooks remembers the day well. On Memorial Day weekend four years ago, she, her husband and their one-and-a-half-year-old daughter went to a local Target near their home in Elk Grove, Calif., to purchase barbequing supplies. When they returned, their home was engulfed in flames.
“It was like an out-of-body experience,” Crooks, 33, told Fox News. “You see fires on TV and are desensitized to them. But you never know when it's going to be your home.”
It was a last-minute decision that saved Crooks and her family from the flames; she and her husband decided to make the trip to Target a family outing, opposed to one of them staying home with their young daughter, she said.
“It was like an out-of-body experience."
Crooks’ family, who had only been living in the house for five months, watched their home burn for roughly seven hours before the fire was contained. The fire marshal on duty that day told Crooks that it was an exterior fire, most likely sparked by something flammable thrown into a trashcan near their home.
“I was shocked, frightened and saddened,” she said. “I wanted to run in and grab pictures and my daughter’s favorite blanket -- material things that you take for granted.”
Crooks’ family lost a lot that day. But thanks to a $100 gift card from the California Fire Foundation’s SAVE program, they were able to buy food and pajamas for their daughter that night.
The foundation works with local fire agencies to provide immediate, on-site assistance to families that have suffered a residential loss of at least 25 percent, according to its website.
It’s also providing assistance to those who have been impacted by the wildfires in Southern California, which have scorched hundreds of thousands of acres, destroyed more than 1,000 structures and have forced more than 200,000 Southern Californians to evacuate at the height of the fires.
The foundation has given roughly 500 gift cards to Southern Californians who have been affected by the wildfires, Lou Paulson, chairman of the California Fire Foundation, told Fox News.
Here's what else is being done to help the wildfire victims.
President Trump’s emergency declaration
President Trump declared a state of emergency in California on Dec. 8, which allows federal assistance to supplement the state and local response to the fires. His declaration is in response to a letter from California Gov. Jerry Brown. Los Angeles, Ventura, San Diego, Santa Barbara and Riverside counties will receive federal assistance.
More specifically, “FEMA is authorized to identify, mobilize, and provide at its discretion, equipment and resources necessary to alleviate the impacts of the emergency,” the emergency management agency said in a statement. Emergency protective measures, including direct federal assistance, will be provided at 75 percent federal funding.
United Way of Ventura County
In a partnership with the American Red Cross of Ventura County and the Ventura County Sheriff's Office of Emergency Services, the United Way of Ventura County has started the Thomas Fire Fund to assist community relief efforts in the county, which has primarily been impacted by the Thomas Fire. This wildfire -- which is the largest of the six raging across the state -- has scorched more than 281,000 acres and destroyed more than 1,000 structures.
The Salvation Army Ventura Corps accepted food, water and money donations to help those who were impacted by the wildfires, especially those who were evacuated to the Ventura County Fairgrounds.
Up until Dec. 9, the organization served a combined total of 4,619 meals to evacuees at the fairgrounds and at Nordhoff High School in Ojai, Calif., which also served as a temporary evacuation center.
The Red Cross
Roughly 615 people who have been forced to leave their homes due to the wildfires have sought refuge at the 13 Red Cross community shelters in Southern California.
Go Fund Me
Many individuals have started fundraising campaigns on Go Fund Me in light of the wildfires.
California Community Foundation’s Wildfire Relief Fund
The California Community Foundation's Wildfire Relief Fund provides immediate and long-term wildfire recovery efforts. Since 2003, the fund has raised $3.5 million to support relief and recovery efforts.
More specifically, the fund supports those who have suffered long-term mental or health issues as a result of wildfires, helps to rebuild homes and provides financial assistance to victims, among other things.
L.A. Kitchen is providing meals to firefighters and displaced wildfire victims.
Humane Society of Ventura County
The Humane Society of Ventura County is housing more than 100 animals due to the wildfires. They’re in need of basic animal supplies such as: cat food, alfalfa, hay, water troughs, hoses, flashlights and rabbit food.