Here's how to help the victims of the Golden Gate Estates brush fire
The 36th Avenue Southeast brush fire continued to burn at 8,250 acres and was 75% contained as of Wednesday afternoon.
The fire, which began May 13, has burned through eastern Collier County and so far destroyed 12 homes and 33 outbuildings.
Here’s how you can help those who have been impacted by the fire:
Direct donations can be made via GoFundMe accounts that have been set up for some of the families who lost their homes in the fire.
United Way of Collier County:
Many of the Golden Gate Estates residents who lost their homes last week do not have GoFundMe accounts set up to collect donations.
Katie Schweikhardt, vice president of resource development at United Way of Collier County, said folks can donate directly to support the brush fire victims through her organization.
Donations can be made at https://unitedwayofcolliercounty.org/give/.
Donors should leave a comment in the notes section of the donation page instructing the organization to designate the funds toward the brush fire survivors, Schweikhardt said.
"We really believe in this community and we want to help whoever we can help as fast as possible," Schweikhardt said.
Victims are encouraged to call United Way of Collier County at 239-263-4211 for assistance.
American Red Cross:
Jill Palmer, executive director for Florida's Coast to Heartland Chapter of the American Red Cross, said her organization has directly assisted eight families in Collier County that could not return to their homes after the fire.
The eight families comprised of three children and 13 adults and have been provided with food, health and mental health services, financial support and temporary lodging, Palmer said.
Direct donations to individuals or families impacted by the brush fire cannot be made through the American Red Cross, but past donations are what allowed the organization to respond quickly to assist the brush fire victims, Palmer said.
“All year long we operate off donations from individuals to help with disaster relief,” Palmer said.
To donate to the American Red Cross, go to www.redcross.org/donate/donation.html/
Prodigy Automotive and Off Road:
The owners of an off road automotive repair facility in North Fort Myers have been collecting donations and delivering them to the victims.
Ashley Gilman, one of the owners of the facility, said she first reached out to her Jeep group, called Prodigy Off Road, for donations.
The group has around 800 members and one the members knew a family who lost its home in the brush fire, Gilman said.
By the end of the first day that she began collecting donations, Gilman had $800 worth of new clothes, a $250 target gift card and $500 in cash to give to the victims.
Her group is still collecting donations to be distributed to the family and their neighbors, Gilman said.
Donations of items, such as clothes, toiletries and blankets, can be dropped off during the week between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. at Prodigy Automotive and Offroad, 20 Cabana Ave., North Fort Myers.
The group is also accepting cash or check donations that will be distributed to the brush fire victims.
Fire crews from multiple agencies are battling spot fires Thursday, May 14, 2020, from the 36th Ave brush fire Golden Gate Estates. Naples Daily News