VENTURA, Calif. (FOX 11) - Hundreds of families affected by the wildfires in Ventura County pack into an abandoned 10 theater movie complex on Capri Avenue and Johnson Drive taken over by the Mission Church.
Over the last several days more than 1,000 volunteers have helped collect and distribute food, water, clothes and toiletries donated by the community to those in need.
Families check in at the lobby, grab a shopping cart and get what they need. Jen Oakes is coordinating the massive undertaking for Mission Church Ventura and says, "It's amazing, people don't want to just sit around and watch what's going on they want to do something to help."
Jennifer Paulsen, a volunteer knows how difficult it can be, "I have friends who have lost their homes so its really sad and heartbreaking, this is surreal. I can't imagine what everyone is going through."
Lorrane Mendoza with her daughter and granddaughter whose house is still standing but covered in ash and soot. Mendoza brought her daughter and granddaughter. Their house is still standing but since it's covered in ash and soot, they needed bedding and clothes, "Its just smelly, and its hard because it's me and the kids, so right now we are getting blankets and some household stuff and clothes because a lot of the furniture and the bedding, you can just smell that."
Meantime in Chatsworth, Operation Gratitude, a not profit organization which sends care packages to US troops, first responders, and veterans year round, is gearing up for a big Saturday morning when they are hoping 25-hundred volunteers will help prepare 10-thousand care packages for first responders fighting the numerous wildfires in southern California, and military personnel overseas.
Chris Clark says, "These care kits that we are creating for the first responders include wipes for the faces, its got little energy drinks, we just had someone donate a palate of energy drinks, it was amazing, things like granola bars, energy bars, and things like a bag of M&M's.
If you would like help Operation Gratitude, you can find more information at: OperationGratidude.com
If you live in the Ventura area and would like to donate supplies or need to pick some up visit The Mission Church on Capri Avenue and Johnson Drive.