As communities across the southeast region of the country are recovering from devastating hurricanes, many people are looking for practical ways to lend a helping hand. Here are a couple ways that you can help the people affected by the recent hurricanes, as well as some tips on how to protect yourself from scams.
Assisting in Person
Wanting to provide assistance in a tangible way is commendable, but according to the National Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster, you shouldn’t “self-deploy.” Not only is going it alone ineffective and potentially dangerous, but it can actually create an additional burden for first responders.
To get involved, sign up as a volunteer with an organization like VOAD or the Red Cross. This will give you the opportunity to receive proper training, not to mention an actual action plan, ensuring that your time and effort is maximized.
Sending Monetary Contributions
Not so good with a hammer but have a few bucks to spare? You’re in luck! According to the Center for International Disaster Information, sending money is actually the most efficient way to help those in need.
Consider this: as good as it makes you feel to be able to donate clothing, blankets, and toys to those affected by a disaster like a hurricane, unless you live in a neighboring community, it’s going to cost quite a bit of money to get those things into the hands of those who can use them. According to the CIDI, paying to transport those goods can actually cost more than the items are even worth. In fact, a lot of times, those items don’t even make it to the intended destination; they end up collecting dust in a warehouse.
Cash, on the other hand, is flexible. It can be used to purchase the supplies that are needed when they’re needed, while also cutting down on the financial burden that charities shoulder when they transport donated items. As an added bonus, the money that is donated is often spent locally, supporting the local economies and helping to generate cash flow during the weeks and months following a crisis.
Finally, don’t forget about the local organizations in the affected areas. Once the dust settles and the relief workers clear out, it usually falls to these organizations to help the community get back on its feet. These organizations are usually painfully underfunded, and every dollar that you send their way gets put to good use.
Hospitals always face blood shortages in the summer, but following a disaster like a hurricane, there is an even greater need. While all blood types are needed, donations from O Negative blood donors are especially necessary. Donating blood is a simple, quick (not to mention free) way to make a profound impact on a community in need. Click here to find out where you can give blood.
A Final Note: Watch Out for Scams
Times of crisis bring out the best in people; well, in most people, anyway. Sadly, for every legitimate charity out there, there are people who see disasters as an opportunity to make a quick buck. Before donating a dime to an organization, check it out on the Better Business Bureau and find out if it is rated or accredited by an agency like Charity Watch (small, community-based charities may be harder to research, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that they aren’t legit). Find out the business’s address and phone number, and don’t wire money or send cash.