By Pamela Dozois
An effort by local country singer Dylan Ortega and others has raised nearly $90,000 for the United Way’s Thomas Fire Fund and intends to reach its goal of $100,000 by the end of February.
With the constant news reports about the devastation left in the wake of the Thomas Fire, Ortega gathered a team of local people and arranged a fundraiser to help those in need.
“Dylan … has been very involved with fundraisers in the community before,” said Patricia Scouten. “We both had family members directly affected by this fire. As we watched the coverage and witnessed the severity of the situation grow, we had no intention of doing nothing. Dylan drafted a handful of people, got us together for a quick meeting to brainstorm some ideas, and from there the ‘Fight The Fire’ committee was created.”
On Jan. 13, everything came together at Flying Flags RV Resort in Buellton. Hundreds of people attended the free event, which included live and silent auctions, food, beer and wine, raffles, and live entertainment by local artists Amanda Mar, Too Little Too Late, and The Shine Box Boys.
“Flying Flags donated the venue, Rooney’s Irish Pub donated the food and drinks, Firestone, Lucky Dog Winery, Casa Cassara Winery helped donate and pour, as well as multiple other vendors. SBR Signs helped create the T-Shirts and donated the awesome banners. Not the least, the amazing volunteers who donated their time to help make this event a successful one. We are beyond grateful to everyone for their kindness and generosity,” Scouten said.
“So many families have lost their homes, belongings, and suffered damage to properties, and even in some cases lives were lost. It has been catastrophic,” Ortega said. “With your help, we can continue to raise more funds and together give these families some hope and help to get them back on their feet.”
The organizers said the event raised $89,000, all of which was given directly to the Thomas Fire Fund via the United Way of Ventura County. To raise the final $11,000 to reach their goal, they will continue to hold open their GoFundMe page at www.gofundme.com/fight-the-fire to accept donations through February.
Those who wish to receive a portion of these funds must first register with United Way. Visit www.unitedwayla.org/ventura_county_thomas_fire, or visit or call either Santa Barbara or Ventura County United Way, 320 East Gutierrez Street, Santa Barbara, 805-965-8591; 6307 Carpinteria Ave., Carpinteria, 805-965-8591; or 4001 Mission Oaks Blvd., Suite E, Camarillo, 805-485-6288.