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Across California, which is home to more than half of the company’s 12,000 employees, communities already struggling with the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic are now facing an early start to the wildfire season, with some of the biggest fires in the state’s history. Since Aug. 15, lightning strikes have caused more than 900 wildfires across the state. The blazes have burned more than 1.5 million acres and forced thousands of people in Northern and Southern California to evacuate, according to Cal Fire, the state’s Department of Forestry and Fire Protection.
“Some of the fires are in very close proximity to Gilead’s Foster City site. For those of us in the San Francisco Bay Area, we are seeing our neighborhoods and forestland in our backyards burning,” says Jane Stafford, Director, Corporate Giving at Gilead. “Employees and their friends and families at both ends of the state have been affected by these wildfires.”
Gilead, as in past years, is working to provide support on multiple levels. The company has made corporate donations to several organizations statewide to help with wildfire relief and recovery efforts. The Human Resources team has reached out to offer support, including time off and financial benefits, to employees who are directly affected. And, last week, Gilead kicked off a Giving Together matching campaign, for employees who want to donate to those impacted by the fires.
The Napa Valley Community Foundation, one of the grantees that Gilead is supporting, is working to provide immediate assistance to help residents who have been affected or displaced by the LNU Lightning Complex fire. Cal Fire estimates the fire affecting Napa and Sonoma Counties has already burned more than 375,000 acres in the area. South of the Bay Area, The Community Foundation of Santa Cruz, is providing more than 70,000 evacuated Santa Cruz County residents with shelter, food and supplies needed for a safe evacuation. The organization’s public relief efforts include supporting groups to purchase food for fire evacuees and N95 masks for farmworkers to protect them from poor air quality.
Through its Giving Together program, Gilead is also offering a 2:1 match up to $2,000 per employee on donations to divide equally among four organizations working to mobilize fire relief efforts across the state.