Donations, housing sites for displaced

Costa Mesa and its firefighters set up drive for evacuees, who may find help on website designed by UCI students, prof.

October 25, 2007|By Joseph Serna

Costa Mesa City Councilwoman Katrina Foley is like a lot of people who saw the devastation wrought by the Southern California wildfires. She wanted to help.

And there were plenty of others who also wanted her and city leaders to do something. So she has organized a drive with the Costa Mesa Firefighters Assn. for donations to help evacuees and those who lost homes.

“There’s a lot that we can do, and you know it’s the right thing to do,” Foley said. “The response has been great.”


The association will accept donations of new pajamas (children and adult sizes), toys, toiletries, blankets, pillows and gift cards from stores like Wal-Mart and Target and grocery stores at its charity golf tournament on Monday at the Mesa Verde Country Club.

“I just thought, well, there’s probably a lot of people in this situation, and we should rally and gather these items for them,” Foley said.

UC Irvine professor Bill Tomlinson and his students, meanwhile, have come up with a unique way to help the victims.

Tomlinson and 20 undergraduate programmers, designers and researchers have created, a website created to help displaced Southern California residents find temporary housing.

At, residents in search of a temporary home can log onto the website and provide basic information about their needs — such as how many people are in the family, where they’re located, if they have pets — and be matched with residents who can help them. Donors can also log on to the site to find a family they would like to help.

User information is private until the site recommends a suitable match, then contact information is exchanged. The latest news on the fire is also posted at the bottom of the page.

The Veggie Grill at UCI also got into the charity act. The restaurant donated more than 100 sandwiches to local firefighters on the frontlines.

And the Pacific Life Foundation, the charitable branch of the Pacific Life Insurance Company, donated $500,000 to the American Red Cross Southern California Wildfires Fund. Those funds were made available immediately to provide shelter, food, counseling and other assistance.

Financial donations can be made to the American Red Cross of Orange County Disaster Relief Fund at 601 N. Golden Circle Drive, Santa Ana, CA 92705 or to the American Red Cross, P.O. Box 37243, Washington D.C., 20013. Internet users can also make online contributions by visiting


Lents & Foley, LLP, 1600 Dove St., Suite 101, Newport Beach

Newport Rib Co., 2196 Harbor Blvd., Costa Mesa

The LAB, 2930 Bristol St., Costa Mesa

Office of Mike Schaefer, State Farm Insurance, 1551 Baker St., Suite B, Costa Mesa

Boys & Girls Club Lou Yantorn Branch, 2131 Tustin Ave., Costa Mesa

Costa Mesa City Hall lobby, 77 Fair Drive, Costa Mesa

Costa Mesa Senior Center, 695 W. 19th St., Costa Mesa

Sonora Elementary, 955 Sonora Road, Costa Mesa

Costa Mesa High School, 2650 Fairview Road, Costa Mesa

JOSEPH SERNA may be reached at (714) 966-4619 or at

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