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Charity During a Disaster

Disasters such as earthquakes, floods, hurricanes, tsunamis, fires and tornadoes can happen in almost any community. They can happen suddenly without warning, or happen gradually; either way, the result leaves a community in turmoil. Fortunately, there are different relief agencies whose specific missions are to provide a variety of support services during disasters.

Types of Donations to Give

Most agencies prefer financial contributions to assist in times of disaster. This allows the agencies to provide a variety of services to the victims. The agencies can also use the cash to purchase specific items needed within the community. The money also has a secondary effect. By infusing cash into the local community, the agencies inadvertently help the local economy. Agencies discourage the donation of used goods. These goods, such as clothing, take up valuable warehouse space. Relief agencies recommend that donors hold yard sales to sell all used items and then donate the proceeds. In-kind goods and services are also acceptable. Donors are also asked to contact specific relief agencies to determine what goods are required for a specific disaster.

Finding a Reliable Organization

Instead of taking donated goods directly to a disaster area and distributing them, agencies recommend that donors contact agencies that are already set up in the area. Agencies have the infrastructure to asses and distribute the goods as needed. Be sure to call and find exactly what goods the agency is accepting before making a donation. Choosing a relief agency depends on the types of goods that a donor wishes to donate. Some large agencies like The American Red Cross have a noteworthy reputation for offering timely assistance and supplying a variety of services. There are also other smaller groups that are affiliated with religious groups that can mobilize assistance at the site of the disaster, quickly and effectively, offering a personal feel.

Packing and Transporting Donated Goods

Proper packaging of the donated goods is important. Boxes should be carefully sealed for easy transportation. They should also have a label that shows the contents of the box. This helps speed up the distribution process. If goods are to be delivered to a remote destination, it is best to plan ahead to cover the cost of the transportation of the donated goods.

Links to Some Good Disaster Relief Organizations

  • Federal Emergency Management Agency, or FEMA, is the federal agency that is charged with overseeing disaster management. FEMA’s mission is to “reduce the loss of life and property and to protect the nation” from all forms of natural and man-made disasters. FEMA offers information on planning ahead, recovering and rebuilding and applying for assistance.
  • Action Car Donation Services processes a car, boat, RV and truck donations for some of America’s finest charity chapters including American Red Cross, Assistance League, International Children’s Relief Foundation, Homeless Centers and may other charity chapters.
  • American Red Cross is the nation’s premier emergency response organization.
  • Catholic Charities USA Disaster Response provides services that include emergency shelter, direct financial assistance, and counseling.
  • Children’s Disaster Services provides much needed childcare in shelters and disaster assistance centers using trained volunteers.
  • Christian Disaster Response (CDR) collects donations at their centers throughout the US.
  • Church World Service (CWS) Disaster Response
  • National Emergency Response Team (NERT) provides Emergency Mobile Trailer units (EMTUs) which are housing units for stricken populations.
  • Salvation Army provides a variety of emergency assistance which includes temporary shelter and medical assistance. They also distribute food, clothing, and household items.
  • Second Harvest National Network of Food Banks collects and distributes donated foods.
  • Society of St. Vincent De Paul collects and distributes donated goods.
  • Volunteers of America (VOA) makes trucks available for transporting victims and supplies to designated shelters. VOA also collects and distributed donated goods.
  • The World Vision collects and distributes donated goods.

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