By David Aft
Our thoughts and prayers turn to our Gulf Coast neighbors in need after Hurricane Harvey made landfall near Corpus Christi and precipitated historic flooding in Houston and surrounding communities. As the late Fred Rogers urged us years ago, we should spend less time dwelling on the catastrophe and focus instead on the “helpers” among us—those who choose to brave the rising waters to save families trapped in homes, those who provide shelter to the displaced, and those who purchase and distribute food, water, and clothing to the victims of this tragedy. In fact, you may want to be one of the helpers. This is not a complete list, but we've thrown together a few ways you can help those affected by the storm and included useful hyperlinks.
MAKE A MONETARY DONATION
Monetary donations are more flexible and cause less of a strain on the charity in times of crisis. As a spokesman on television said last night, unlike material donations, cash involves no transportation costs, shipping delays, or customs fees. It also enables relief organizations to spend more time providing aid by spending less time managing goods.
The Red Cross depends on financial donations to help provide immediate relief. They have set up a way to donate to victims with a simple text. Text the word HARVEY to 90999 to make a $10 donation. You can also visit http://www.redcross.org/hp/harvey3
The United Way has also announced a way to text a donation: Text UWFLOOD to 41444 to donate to the United Way Flood Relief Fund
Donations to support The Salvation Army's Hurricane Harvey relief efforts can be made at helpsalvationarmy.org or by calling 1-800-SAL-ARMY.
The Hurricane Harvey Relief Fund set up by Houston's mayor, Sylvester Turner, and administered by the Greater Houston Community Foundation is another great way to provide aid.
The Houston Food Bank and the Food Bank of Corpus Christi are asking for donations.
Carter BloodCare covers hospitals in north, central and east Texas. To donate, call 877-571-1000 or text DONATE4LIFE to 444-999.
To help animals suffering from the disaster, visit the Houston Humane Society or the San Antonio Humane Society.
The Texas Diaper Bank in San Antonio is asking for diapers and wipes, which can be mailed to 5415 Bandera Road, Suite 504, San Antonio, Texas 78238.
AABB, which coordinates a task force to manage blood collection efforts during disasters, put out a call on Sunday for blood donations in the aftermath of Harvey.
Those interested in donating blood may contact the following organizations:
American Red Cross: 1-800-RED CROSS (1-800-733-2767), Blood Assurance: 785 Shugart Rd, Dalton, GA 30720, 706-226-7735, Armed Services Blood Program: 703-681-5979, or AABB: 301-907-6977.
OTHER ONLINE ONLY GROUPS TO CONSIDER
GoFundMe has created a page with all of its Harvey-related campaigns.
Airbnb is waiving service fees for those affected by the disaster and checking in between Aug. 23 and Sept. 1, and can guide users in creating a listing where their home is offered to victims free.
YouCaring has a fund-raising page set up by J. J. Watt of the Houston Texans with a goal of $1 million.
GlobalGiving's Hurricane Harvey Relief Fund supports local organizations by helping with "immediate needs for food, fuel, clean water, hygiene products and shelter.
You, too, can be a “helper.” As always, if you have a specific question about relief efforts or how you can make a difference, give me a call at the office at (706) 275-9117.
David Aft is the president of the Community Foundation of Northwest Georgia. He has worked in the nonprofit field for over twenty-five years and is a recognized resource and noted speaker on charitable enterprise, civics, fundraising strategy and community development.