People are looking high and low for ways to help the tens of thousands of people affected by Hurricane Harvey and many more will be looking next week after Hurricane Irma hits. This morning I welcomed the day with the Black Eye Pea song, “Where is the Love” and it made me sit and reflect for a moment. This is where the love is…… it is bottled up waiting for disasters to happen. It is not in big buildings in Washington or in Austin, or any other capitol. It is on the ground where people are helping each other. (I promise I will not go off on politics!)
But as I learned as a parent, showing too much love at one time can suffocate people. My daughter has told me this over and over. You must show love over a long period of time for the receiver to really feel the love.
As I look at many of the community websites, communities are flooded with goods to help their residents and this is amazing. They are so appreciated that people all over the country care about them but it is causing some headaches for them. Storage is becoming an issue because many of the communities no longer have the buildings that can store everything. At this point, they are asking for money so that they can refill when they run out of something.
This made me think about why so many people prefer to give goods over cash. After all, we are spending the money today…. we are going to Home Depot and other stores and purchasing the items on the wish list so why don’t we just give them the money and let them get the items?
Most of the people who choose to give goods over cash are skeptical that the big non-profits will not use the money on the Harvey victims. I have read many posts that discuss the distrust of large disaster relief organizations, such as Red Cross. Although Red Cross has a high rating by many charity watch groups (such as Charity Navigator) and they do great work, I can understand why some people might be hesitant to want to give their money to the big organizations. This is why I want to offer some advice.
First, it will be a little bit before many victims are ready to rebuild. They must wait for FEMA to assess the damage and then begin dealing with either insurance or find other ways to pay for the rebuilding. Knowing that most people will forget these people once the media has left, we need to make sure that money is not wasted or absorbed by an organization for another disaster leaving these victims without support. There are many organizations that are creating funds so that people can secure funding after the media is gone.
Rebuild Texas, an initiative started by the Michael and Susan Dell Foundation, is working with large corporations and small donors to collect money which will be distributed for both short term and long term means. All money will be given to those who have been impacted by Harvey. Michael and Susan Dell have committed $36M to this campaign. Their goal is to raise $100M to help the victims.
Community foundations are a great place to donate money. For Hurricane Harvey victims, Austin Community Foundation has secured an initial match of $200,000 so that they can make a large impact. All donations to the Fund will be deployed over the next several years through strategic grants supporting long-term recovery efforts. Preference will be shown to organizations working in under resourced communities. The Greater Houston Community Foundation is also collecting donations that will be distributed to victims. Not a lot of information was provided on how they are going to distribute.
Want to give directly to someone? Go to the GoFundMe page and you will find pages of families who are having to rebuild.
If you really want to give goods, here is a few ways you can support specific causes.
Many teachers lost items in their classrooms and most of those items came out of their personal money. Adopt a classroom by going to organizations such as Texas Teachers and find a teacher in need of help.
Amazon has a lot of wish list where you can purchase items that are needed today.
Red Cross will be on the ground for a while. Here is their wish list.
For Hurricane Harvey victims, here are specific organizations in need of items:
Austin Humane Society is taking in hundreds of misplaced animals. Here is their wish list
Undies for Everyone is needing clean underwear for the victims. Here is their wish list.
My goal is to do something to help them today, something to help them at the end of the month and something that will help them in 9 months. Can you do the same?