In the wake of the Fritch fire, there has been an onslaught of volunteer organizations and relief efforts to help support the victims. But with the various ways of donating or helping, it is easy to ask questions about where all the money and donations are going.
??I think it is important to clarify what happens in times of disaster or when there is a specific gift, like a restricted donation. The Salvation Army has a mechanism where we identify that gift for a use, and that??s the only use it can be for,?? said Major Harvey Johnson, commanding officer of the Salvation Army here in Amarillo. ??Most national level organizations deal with the same accounting principals and have the same procedures because it??s not only and ethical issue that has to be addressed but a legal issue.??
The Texas Panhandle VOAD, also known as the Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster, says approximately 45 churches, community organization and non-profit disaster relief organizations working to provide help for anyone affected by last week??s first fire. Though there is no longer a VOAD resource center in Fritch, the group is still working to organize the various relief efforts for the greatest efficiency in the area.
??The Texas Panhandle VOAD is still active on the scene. We don??t necessarily have an office, we are kind of bouncing around from scene to scene talking to some of the community people. We??ll still be involved up until we can kind of hand off the reigns of VOAD liason to one of the community people because our goal is to take care of immediate needs, set up the source center, start the coordination, and then as the city continues to heal, be a good point person if they need additional guidance over the next
Patton also said that at this point, no more merchandise donations need to be sent but that monetary donations would be of the greatest help.
??These people need money so that they can rebuild here so we can keep the city of Fritch alive,?? said Patton.
??Monetary gifts are really appropriate because, moving forward, we??re going to have to get those families established and even right now, there are needs for prescriptions, someone??s lost their eyeglasses or hearing aids?|?? said Johnson. ??We??re going to be looking at those things specifically and there won??t be a one-size-fits-all approach. We??re going to be doing case management according to what the family needs.??
Johnson said he understands the nervousness of donating money to organizations for fear of it never ending up helping the right people or getting lost somewhere in the organization. However, he guaranteed that money earmarked for Fritch and donated to the Salvation Army would be directly going to relief effort in that area.
??When you talk about national organizations, let me just say, yes, we??re a part of a national organization but it??s all about us local people responding and the only advantage for us is that we can bring in other resources that go beyond our area to help address things,?? said Johnson.
The Red Cross said they could also use monetary donations to be used for client assistance programs and providing meals for volunteers and residents. Those monetary donations can be earmarked to be specifically designated for Fritch as well.
??All those financial gifts that are being earmarked for the Panhandle are really having a great impact and doing some really good stuff here in the community, ??said Steve Pair, executive director of the Texas Panhandle American Red Cross chapter.
To Donate and Designate to either the Red Cross or Salvation Army:
For the Red Cross: mail or drop off a check with ??Texas Panhandle Wildfires?? in the memo line
For the Salvation Army: mail or drop off a check with ??Fritch?? in the memo line, include it in the space bar when donating online, or call 1-800-SAL-ARMY.
The Hutchinson County United Way will also will be creating a Fritch fire relief fund to help victims get into a new residence. There are two ways to give to that, as well:
-Mail to the Hutchinson County United Way, earmarked 2014 Fritch fire at PO BOX 1430, Borger TX 79008
-Donate to accounts set up at Pantex federal union in Borger and Fritch