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How to help victims of Central Texas fires

September 6, 2011

Bastrop fire as viewed from Austin, photo by Deanna Roy

GivingCity Austin readers are anxious to help the victims of the fires smoldering across Central Texas – in Cedar Park, Leander, Steiner Ranch, Bastrop and more. Here are some resources for you:

First, the urge to help people may be strong, but please don’t drive out to the sites of the fires unless you’re a trained Red Cross volunteer or a volunteer fire fighter.

Second, if you want to give someone or a family financial support, please do. You don’t have to do this through a charity.

According to MariBen Ramsey, COO/VP/general counsel of the Austin Community Foundation, a person can give another individual up to $13,000 per year (up to $1 million) without paying a gift tax. This gift to another individual is not tax deductible, however.

The only time a gift is considered tax deductible is when it is given to an IRS-recognized charity. You can verify nonprofits by searching for them on Guidestar.

List of resources for donors and volunteers trying to help victims of Central Texas fires:

1. The American Red Cross of Central Texas accepts donations and offers volunteer opportunities.

If you donate online, you can select “American Red Cross of Central Texas,” if you want your donation to stay in our area. You can do the same by phone or when you mail in a check.

2. Austin Community Foundation’s Central Texas Fire Relief Emergency Fund -  There are many smaller organizations in the community that are helping the victims of the Central Texas fires. The ACF fund will allow those  organizations – especially those that can’t spend a lot of time raising money and accepting donations -  a source for funding. ACF is working with Austin Telco and the Austin American-Statesman to publicize this fund.

Donate online now ( or call ACF at 512-472-4483. You can even mail in a check:

Austin Community Foundation
4315 Guadalupe St. Ste. 300
Austin, TX 78717

If you’re a nonprofit and would like to apply for funds, please contact MariBen Ramsey at 512-472-4483. Funds will be distributed as they become available.

3. The Austin Disaster Relief is a 501(c)(3) charity. It is a network of churches across Central Texas that works with City of Austin, Red Cross of Central Texas and others to offer shelter, volunteers, donations and more.

“ADRN is developing a church network that will organize, mobilize and connect the body of Christ and its resources, in the event of a natural or man-made disaster.”

4. lists a number of places where you can drop off clothing donations.

5. Capital Area Food Bank is accepting donations of food, specifically those that don’t require a can opener.

6. lists many ways you can help the victims of fires across Central Texas. Donations and volunteers are needed for Catholic Charities, The Oasis, Austin Christian Fellowship and more.

7. GivingCity contributor, Shelley Seale, put a great list of organizations accepting donations and volunteers. See her story here:

8. Texas Wildfire Relief Fund – supports volunteer fire fighters in Texas.

9. Lutheran Social Services is also accepting donations.

“In the short-term, LSSDR is addressing the immediate, emergency needs for food/shelter/clothing of individuals and families affected.  This will be an ongoing response through congregations until all are served or until the funds run out.

In the long-term, and as funds allow, LSSDR will assist low-income families without insurance who lost their homes and possessions, as well as renters stripped of their belongings.  Spiritual and emotional care will be available to those in need of support.”

10. From our friends at H-E-B:

“H-E-B plans to launch a disaster relief donation campaign for Austin-area stores to send relief through the Red Cross to the impacted areas all across Central Texas. Customers will have the opportunity to add a donation of $1, $3 or $5 to their total grocery bill when they check out, or at the Business Center. One hundred percent of the donations will go to the American Red Cross and its emergency relief efforts in Central Texas.

Additionally, H-E-B will donate $50,000 to the Red Cross to help the communities of Bastrop, Steiner, Spicewood and others impacted by the fires.”

11. And from our other friends at United Way Capital Area:

“Supporting families in crisis is easy with a one-time gift to the UWCA Central Texas Wildfire Relief Fund. Give online at UWCA will direct 100 percent of the donations to a variety of non-profits providing a range of services for immediate and long-term relief related to the wildfire crisis.”

12. Just heard from our new friends at Whole Earth Provision Company that they are accepting donations at the cash registers of all their stores. Please make sure to give to the Austin Community Foundation Central Texas Fire Relief Emergency Fund when you make a purchase.

13. Emmis Radio is accepting donations of goods at their stations and at several Rudy’s locations all over town. They’re looking for things like diapers, bandages, Tylenol, bedding… take a look at their full list online.


Know any more? Contact me at or call me at 512-472-4483.

You can also add to the Facebook post about this:


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2 Responses to How to help victims of Central Texas fires

  1. [...] As of two days ago, the Insurance Council of Texas estimated losses due to the Labor Day Central Texas wildfires at $250 million. Bastrop County losses, with 60 to 70% fire containment, are currently estimated at $150 million. Other wildfires are being fought in other areas of Texas.  According to the Texas Forest Service as of the morning, they have responded to 149 fires in the past seven days.  If you want to help victims of Central Texas wildfires, please follow this link: [...]

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