The devastation caused by Hurricanes Harvey and Irma has struck a blow to just about everyone in the Western hemisphere. Thousands of people were immediately impacted, and the rest of us were impacted through the pain of loved ones, the loss of business contacts, changes of plans, and just plain sadness. I watched through the news as my old home, Sint Maarten, was completely destroyed by Irma.
Through all of the chaos and disaster, those of us who haven’t been personally victimized by the hurricanes are all asking the same question: What can I do to help people affected by Hurricane Irma and Hurricane Harvey?
If that’s you, I have good news for you: I have pulled together a list of ways you can give to credible organizations, volunteer, and reach out.
Give Money toward Hurricane Relief
There are many people who would love to go and help in Texas, Florida, or the Caribbean. However, not all of us have the ability to take time off work, leave our families, or spend the money it takes to travel. And that’s OK.
Don’t feel guilty about not being able to go somewhere. You can’t change your circumstances. But you can still help by giving money. If you can afford to go but don’t have time off to leave, why not donate the amount you’d spend on travel toward funds that will feed and house hurricane victims?
If you don’t have much money at all, don’t feel bad. Most of the money that gets donated toward hurricane relief will probably come from people like you, who can give a few dollars. Even a dollar or two will help. So give whatever you can!
Of course, we also want to be sure our money is going to the right place! Scams in the past have left us with a bad taste in our mouth.
Here are credible organizations who you can donate to with confidence:
Samaritan’s Purse is one of the first responders to land on the ground in the Caribbean. I was so thankful to watch a video of their plane landing on the strip in Sint Maarten, just a short walk from where I used to live. From friends on the island, I know the situation there is dire as drinking water is beginning to run short. Oh, the bitter irony.
Of course, Samaritan’s Purse is also on the ground in other places as well. They are working in both Texas and Florida as well as in the Caribbean. If you donate money to Samaritan’s Purse, you can be confident that it will go to help hurricane survivors.
I am in contact with two Rotary Clubs, one in Royal Oak, Michigan and the other in St. Catharines, Ontario. Both of these clubs are already in action to mobilize support for the hurricane victims. I am going to bet that these aren’t the only clubs who are ready to provide support and supplies to people affected by the hurricane. Contact your local Rotary Club (I messaged mine on Facebook) to see what their plans are and learn how you can help.
Rotary is a well-established and highly-respected organization that has an excellent reputation, so you can safely give your donations to them and know it will go to the right place.
The Salvation Army
The Salvation Army, like Samaritan’s Purse, is also already on the ground in hurricane-affected areas. If you go to the disaster-relief page of their website, you can see the actual numbers of meals, volunteers, and more than have been sent to hurricane-affected areas by the Salvation Army. Your donation will be converted into much-needed supplies, like food that is being trucked to affected areas, medical supplies, and even comfort kits.
Volunteer for Hurricane Relief
Want to actually go do the messy work yourself? There are plenty of ways you can help out hurricane victims with your time! Of course, it’s never a good idea to take yourself to a disaster zone without being a part of an organization—you’ll make more work for the organized and trained volunteers.
Here are some ways you can effectively volunteer for hurricane relief:
Samaritan’s Purse Again, partnering with Samaritan’s Purse is an excellent way to help people who have been hit by Hurricane Harvey or Hurricane Irma. Sign up to volunteer, and you could end up building houses, delivering supplies, or any number of things.
Habitat for Humanity
If you don’t have time to go volunteer right now, Habitat for Humanity is a great service option for you. Since the rebuilding work will be going on for months, this organization will still need volunteers for a long time. Sign up online so that you can get updates and find a service date that works with your schedule.
The Red Cross has already maxed out their volunteer needs for Hurricane Harvey victims in Texas, but they are looking for people to head to Florida to help victims from Hurricane Irma. You can sign up to help on the Red Cross website.
Other ways to assist in hurricane recovery:
You can give more than only your time and money to hurricane relief efforts. If time and money are both in short supply for you, or if you want to do even more, check out some other ways you can help.
Well, most of us have plenty of that! While not everyone can give blood, most of the adult population has a wonderful opportunity to donate life to hurricane victims. Have type O blood? You are positively essential! There are multiple organizations that take blood donations. One of the best is AABB.
Foster an Animal
Many animals were lost, abandoned, or tearfully relinquished as a result of Hurricanes Harvey and Irma. Good news: you can take in a cat or a dog! You can adopt, but you can also foster an animal until its owner can be located or a new owner found. Austin Pets Alive is one organization that is searching for foster homes. So is SPCA of Texas. You can also donate pet supplies to these shelters.
Open Your Home
Do you live in Texas and have an extra room? Sign up on Airbnb to welcome a family for free! There are many people who have lost their homes and need temporary shelter.
As you can see, there are many ways you can help hurricane victims! Hurricane Harvey and Hurricane Irma caused massive disaster, but we can all pull together to help rebuild cities and lives. Anything you do will be a huge help!