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6 ways you can offer help for B.C. wildfire relief efforts

Hint: almost all of them involve donating.

Nevaeh Porter, 8, reacts while viewing the remains of her home where she lived with her mom and grandparents that was destroyed by wildfire on the Ashcroft First Nation, near Ashcroft, B.C., late Sunday July 9, 2017.

THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck

Nevaeh Porter, 8, reacts while viewing the remains of her home where she lived with her mom and grandparents that was destroyed by wildfire on the Ashcroft First Nation, near Ashcroft, B.C., late Sunday July 9, 2017.

As of Monday afternoon, at least 220 rapidly spreading wildfires had driven 14,000 British Columbians from their homes, sparking a rapid "province-wide" relief effort, according to the Canadian Red Cross.

Across the province's Interior — and even as far away as Fort McMurray, Alta. more than 900 kilometres east of fire-ravaged Cache Creek, B.C. — residents are rallying to help offer supplies and relief support to those displaced.

Many have expressed inspiration from those affected by the so-called "Beast" wildfire in Fort McMurray last year sending a massive load of donated blankets, clothing and other supplies to their B.C. neighbours.

But experts say the best way for ordinary people to show their support is to donate money to organizations on the front-lines, so they can choose how to use it most effectively, where it's needed.

"For the many generous residents … wanting to help the B.C. wildfire evacuees," noted the United Way Thompson Nicola Cariboo in a Facebook post, "please HOLD OFF on bringing donations to the evacuation centre.

"The Thompson-Nicola Regional District is working with the Canadian Red Cross to coordinate supplies, so stay tuned for information on needs as they arise … Donate to Canadian Red Cross to help meet the immediate needs of B.C. wildfire evacuees."

Meanwhile, the Canadian Red Cross B.C. and Yukon branch said on the organization's website that it's "supporting the B.C. government in providing relief for those affected and a British Columbia Fires Appeal has been opened for Canadians who wish to help those in need."

So here are five ideas for how you can easily support the victims of the B.C. wildfires:

1. Donate to the Canadian Red Cross online

It's easy and ensures your contribution is put to best use. Go to the Red Cross B.C. Fires Appeal donation page to get started.

2. Text 'FIRES' to 45678

By far the easiest way to give; when you text, a $10 Canadian Red Cross donation will be added onto your next cellphone bill. Don't forget to reply "YES" when they ask to confirm your contribution.

3. Share your donation and a link on social media

Amplify your contribution to wildfire relief by posting a link to the Canadian Red Cross donation page along with a personal note saying you gave to your Facebook, Twitter and Instagram accounts.

4. Boost your bucks to battle the blaze when you buy booze

B.C.'s government-run Liqour Stores have opened their tills to collect donations for wildfire relief efforts.

That means as you stock up on beer, you can also help those fleeing their homes stock up on essential supplies.

"BC Liquor Store customers can contribute at the till — in increments of $2, $5, or multiples thereof — with all proceeds going directly to the Red Cross," the province said in a press release Monday. "These funds will help with immediate needs for those affected, such as providing evacuees with shelter, food and water."

The union representing Liquor Store employees stood behind the Crown corporation's efforts to help wildfire relief.

"We stand with communities affected by B.C. wildfires," said the B.C. Government and Service Employees' Union (BCGEU) in a tweet. "Donate at the register with BCGEU … members at (B.C. Liquor Stores)."

5. Help evacuees hit the hay — with a home

If you live in the Cariboo, Interior or north Okanagan regions of B.C.: AirBNB has sent a note to hosts on its short-term housing rental service inviting them to donate a room or suite to families displaced by the B.C. wildfires — without the company charging any of its usual hosting and guest fees.

Under its international web page of "Urgent Accommodations," the company promised that, "All service fees are waived for those affected by the disaster and checking in between July 08, 2017 and July 31, 2017," AirBNB stated.

So far, at least 25 hosts have offered their listings up for free.

6. Sign up as a volunteer for Emergency Social Services B.C.

The government initiative coordinates things like disaster relief shelters and phone lines, and relies on volunteers. Find out more information on the province's emergency website.

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