SPOKANE COUNTY, Wash.—The Red Cross collected more than $100,000 in one week for victims of the Washington wildfires, and the money is already being handed out in Okanogan County.
Viewers asked where the money was going, so 2 On Your Side hunted down the answer.
The donations made for the wildfire victims stay local according to organizers. Three-percent of the donations are used to pay for overhead costs while 97% goes to helping families.
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On Wednesday, Red Cross Chief Development Officer Kris Pitcher explained to KREM 2 News how they decide which victims receive money. Pitcher said wildfire victims contact the Red Cross, fill out paperwork, and are immediately given a cash card.
“It’s like a debit card,” added Pitcher, “so it's loaded with assistance which is determined by their amount of loss to help them with clothing, hygiene needs, all of the things that they require to get them back on their feet until they're in more stable housing.”
Individual caseworkers are available to speak to wildfire victims at the emergency shelters. Caseworkers on site determine how much each family receives financially from the Red Cross.
“We work really closely with our assessment teams to make sure that people have what they need,” added Pitcher. “Sometimes we can wrap up a case right then and there. Somebody might just have some immediate needs. Others, it's that immediate need and once that's met, we come back together to talk about a longer-term solution. “
Red Cross organizers described the long-term solutions as helping to find housing and paying for future housing.