But it's played the role many times before, said Robert Warf, a Sunday school teacher who was directing traffic into the surrounding fields.
"I think we're extremely organized," Warf said. "We've been doing this every time there's a need."
The need has been overwhelming since last week, when the Camp Fire ravaged the nearby town of Paradise and displaced some 52,000 people.
Volunteers had separated donated clothing, bottled water, toiletries and other essentials in different areas around the church yard.
Warf said they had to start turning down clothing donations — the church received much more than was needed. He had a list of other donations that would be helpful: Visa gift cards of at least $28 so people can set up post office boxes to receive mail, tents in good condition and new sleeping bags.
"We need new shoes," he added. "These people don't have anything, and some of them were running down that hill and don't have shoes. ... They don't have to be fancy shoes."
People wearing medical scrubs and stethoscopes moved among the crowd, and food was available in a large hall inside the building.
Members of the 823 chapter of the Hellbent Motorcycle Club were also walking the grounds.
Chapter president Matt Straus said the club showed up Sunday with a bunch of personal hygiene kits to donate.
"I thought that there was only about 50 people here or so, and we made 100 of them," he said. "As soon as we showed up, we noticed that there was a need for a lot more. We barely even put a dent in anything."