The news coverage, stories, and images to come out of Texas over the last several days have been heartbreaking and unfathomable. To see so many seeking refuge – clutching only a child or a garbage bag full of the possessions they were able to grab before their homes were swallowed by rushing waters – is something none of us ever, ever anticipate happening to us.
Countless stranded – on their own roofs, in nursing homes, in the streets – left waiting for rescue for hours and days on end. The abandoned pets, the once bustling streets and safe, cozy homes submerged in Harvey’s aftermath… this is real.
While the wreckage left by Hurricane Harvey is devastating beyond belief, and hits close to home for those of us in the states, thousands of people have died in Bangladesh, India, Nepal, and Africa in recent weeks as a result of monsoon rain, and millions have been affected in some way.
Now, Hurricane Irma is making its way through the Caribbean and moving toward Florida. Only time can tell what devastation may result.
Our world is hurting right now, and while it may feel like you can’t make much of a difference, cliché as it sounds, anything helps. In many cases, it doesn’t even have to cost you a dime.
There are countless charities out there dedicated to helping victims of natural disasters, and many relief projects that have been created over the past couple of weeks. It’s important in times like these to do your research to ensure your donation will actually end up going to affected victims and ongoing disaster relief efforts. Some organizations cannot guarantee exactly where the donations will end up and/or how they’ll be used, and, unfortunately, it’s a prime opportunity for scammers to trick those who want to give into donating to fake fundraisers. This is a great tool to research the validity of charities.
If you’re able to contribute, in any way at all, here are some options to consider.
Hurricane Harvey Relief Fund | Established by Houston’s mayor, this fund is administered by the Greater Houston Community Foundation and will help with ongoing disaster relief efforts.
Houston SPCA | Donations made to this organization will help with the rescue and care of the thousands of animals left homeless following Hurricane Harvey.
GoFundMe | This crowdfunding site has curated all of the Harvey-related fundraisers, covering multiple needs and projects, into one location.
3Rivers Disaster Relief Fund | If you’re a Northeast Indiana resident like us, stop into a 3Rivers Credit Union branch and donate to their disaster relief fund, which is currently sending 100% of donations to the Hurricane Harvey Relief Fund mentioned above. Additionally, they’re matching, dollar for dollar, up to $5,000.
This New York Times article is an excellent resource, full of more options to consider.
South Asia + Africa
Unicef | This organization has a Children’s Emergency Fund, which helps to keep children safe when disaster strikes.
Islamic Relief USA | Donations made to help the survivors of the flooding in South Asia will help provide victims with clean water, food, sanitation, and shelter.
Aid for Africa | This is an ongoing charity that focuses on the health, wellness, education, and protection of children in sub-Saharan Africa.
Oxfam | Donations to this fund go toward providing clean drinking water, food, shelter, personal hygiene items, and more to over 186,000 victims.
Most organizations encourage cash donations early on in their relief efforts. It can be hard to tell exactly what is needed until flood waters recede, and difficult to find a place to store all of the donations right away. However, material donations are definitely crucial. Here are a few items to consider:
- Food and bottled water
- Textiles (blankets, bedding, towels, washcloths, etc.)
- Personal care items
- Baby and childcare products (including diapers and wipes)
- Pet food
Check in with your local donation centers and food banks to see if they’ve partnered with organizations in affected cities. Locally, Community Harvest Food Bank in Fort Wayne has partnered with Feeding America to send donations to Harvey victims.
You can also research and contact charities located in the cities affected to learn how you can get material donations to them.
It undoubtedly takes a long, long time and a whole lot of effort to rebuild a city after natural disaster strikes. If you are able, there will be plenty of opportunities to volunteer your time in the coming months and years. Organizations like Samaritan’s Purse, GivePulse, National Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster, and more help to link those interested in giving their time with projects in need of help.
In a time of so much loss and sadness, it warms our hearts to see how many people and organizations are willing to offer assistance – in a myriad of ways. It doesn’t take away the loss or the hurt. It won’t fix anything overnight, and in some cases, some damage won’t be fixable at all. We may not be able to go back to where we were before disaster struck, but, despite still being in the pits of despair, there is hope to move forward from it all. In a world that has felt so very divided recently, coming together feels really, really good.