As wildfires destroy homes and property from the Susitna Valley to the Kenai Peninsula, forcing hundreds to evacuate, many Alaskans are searching for ways to help. Plenty of information on donations and relief efforts is circulating on social media, but that isn't always reliable and scammers posing as volunteers collecting money have been reported.
Here's an expanding list of ways to help your fellow Alaskans. Since the specific needs of each organization are constantly changing, it's best to call ahead or check their Facebook page before dropping off donations. If you know of other opportunities to help, email Egan Millard at email@example.com.
-- The Red Cross of Alaska doesn't directly accept donations of clothing or personal items. Instead, it suggests making a monetary donation, which can be done by credit card or check or by texting "AKFIRE" to 41444.? The Red Cross asks donors not to specify "Sockeye fire" or "Card Street fire" on checks, because if there is money left over after the fires are put out, it cannot be spent on other aid efforts. All checks made out to the American Red Cross of Alaska will stay in Alaska.
-- Hope For Heroes (1201 N. Lucille St., Suite 101, Wasilla) is seeking donations of prepackaged food, ice and cleaning supplies to help the Salvation Army serve meals to firefighters on the front lines. Their latest requests are: Crunchy peanut butter, tomato sauce, foil pans and scrubbers.
-- The Willow Dog Mushers Association is accepting financial donations (and has raised over $14,000 as of 5 p.m. Wednesday) at its YouCaring page.
-- All GCI stores in Anchorage, Eagle River and Wasilla are accepting donations for those affected by the Sockeye fire. The most-needed items there are clothing, diapers, nonperishable food and dog/cat food, GCI says. GCI stores in Kenai and Soldotna are also taking donations for those affected by the Card Street fire, and requested items include water, trail mix, granola bars and sports drinks.
-- MyHouse in Wasilla is accepting donations on behalf of the Red Cross and lists its most recent needs as: Tarps, dog leads, lip balm, eye drops, Gatorade, water, snack bars, protein bars, bulk coffee, trash bags, bungee cords, blankets, sleeping bags, clothes, baby formula, children's underwear, diapers, dog and cat food, cat litter, hot dog and hamburger buns, tomatoes, lettuce, sliced cheese, etc. MyHouse is open from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. (300 N. Willow St., Wasilla; 907-354-4357)
-- The Sterling Community Center is providing meals and supplies to Card Street fire evacuees and will be a Red Cross service center starting Thursday afternoon. They are seeking donations of cash or Fred Meyer gift cards -- not food -- so they can cook full meals as needed. (Mile 83.5 Sterling Highway, 907-262-7224)
-- Alaska Health Fair Inc. will also be collecting items to take to those in need. Donations can be dropped off at 720 W. 58th Ave. in Anchorage. They're looking for donations of water, snacks, soap, shampoo, toiletries, blankets, diapers, eye drops, coffee, tea, paper plates and bowls. For more information, call Alaska Health Fair Inc. at 907-278-0234.
-- Alaska Dog and Puppy Rescue is accepting donations of food and supplies at locations in Anchorage (1005 E. Dimond Blvd., Suite 3) and Palmer (1675 N. Winding Brook Loop Road).
-- The Petco store in Anchorage's Glenn Square shopping center (3090 Mountain View Drive) is collecting donations of pet food, dog bowls, chains, snap hooks and tarps.
-- Underdog Feeds (750 S. Dandelion Circle, Wasilla) is accepting cash or credit card donations in person or by phone (907-373-6851), but not food. The funds will be managed by the Willow Dog Mushers Association.
-- J&J Independent Living is accepting donations for travel kits. Needed items include toothpaste, toothbrushes, razors, travel shampoo and deodorant, washcloths and soap. (165 E. Parks Highway, #106, Wasilla)
Other locations accepting donations
-- Algone Interventional Pain Clinic, 3066 E. Meridian Park Loop, Unit 1, Wasilla
-- Any fire station in the Mat-Su area
-- Peters Creek Pet Boarding, 20843 Old Glenn Highway, Chugiak
-- Keller Williams Realty, 101 W. Benson Blvd., Suite 503, Anchorage
-- UAA Health Sciences Building, 3795 Piper St., Anchorage
-- Matanuska Coffee Co., 1801 Knik-Goose Bay Road, Wasilla
-- Colony Cup Espresso, 1800 Glenn Highway, Palmer
-- Country Financial, 4901 E. Mayflower Lane, Wasilla
-- Golden Heart Feed & Tack, 800 30th Ave., Fairbanks
-- Clear Creek Cat Rescue (accepting donations online)