LA
08/10/2013 03:45 pm ET | Updated Oct 10, 2013

Red Cross At Silver Fire In Southern California Helps Victims, Volunteers Provide Vital Resources

BEAUMONT -- Red Cross volunteer Janet Upchurch had bags under her eyes Friday as she directed other volunteers to where they were needed at Silver Fire evacuation centers.

"I'm exhausted," said Upchurch, 69.

The Beaumont resident has been traveling between Beaumont High and Hemet High, the sites set up by the American Red Cross to help shelter and feed people forced from their homes by the wildfire.

For Upchurch, this was her second tour of duty in less than a month, having volunteered during the Mountain Fire in the Idyllwild area.

Her long days include answering questions from evacuees, helping them get settled and providing fire updates during their stay.

Beaumont and Hemet highs have served a steady stream of people since the fire broke Wednesday, Red Cross officials said.

To help evacuees stay informed about the fire and their property, Red Cross volunteers have registered their names and contact information at the evacuation centers so they can be reached easily.

Meals and places to sleep were available at both schools and will continue to be until residents can return to their homes.

Because the Red Cross has dealt with two major fires almost back to back, volunteers have needed to rely on resources from other chapters to help replenish half-empty food trailers.

People have also called asking how they can help.

"A woman contacted me last night and asked what she could do" Upchurch said. "I said, 'Well, we have a few children here who don't have anything to play with.' And she brought some games down. People are so generous and want to help."

Upchurch has collected numbers from people wanting to contribute. She is keeping the numbers in case their services are needed, she said.

Red Cross chapters also rely on assistance from neighboring organizations when more volunteers or additional supplies are needed, as the need arise, said Larry Fortmuller, a spokesman.

Chapters also can reach out to organizations across the country, he said.

"We are a charity -- we rely on people's donations and that sort of thing," he said. "But we can replenish rather quickly."

To learn more, visit redcross.org. ___

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