Tuesday, September 12, 2017

3 alternative ways to donate after a natural disaster

Following Hurricane Harvey I shared my personal hurricane story. I thought that would be the last time I'd have to think about this type of natural disaster until next year. The fact that there would be two major storms in a year just wasn't even a thought in my mind. Maybe that's why even all the way here in my tiny mountain town across the country Irma is giving me anxiety.

Florida is a special place for my family. My great grandparents owned a Key and my dad spent his summers growing up down there. The Florida Keys are truly my dad's happy place. We spent the Christmas after Katrina down there in an effort to forget that our new home was a tiny apartment in north Alabama. That vacation was the first time I was able to almost forget how non-normal my life had become. I also have family still in the Keys. Thankfully most of them were able to evacuate safely and are staying with my parents in Mississippi. But I do still have some relatives acting as first responders down there. Please keep them in your prayers.

With big disasters there is always push to donate to big national organizations, but they often aren't the most helpful. Yes it's easy to text a number and donate $10, but out of that $10 you donate probably only $2 is actually going to people in need. Here are 3 alternative ways to donate after a natural disaster.

1. Organizations you have a connection to - Look toward your alma mater donating to alumni chapters in the destroyed areas or scholarship funds that benefit students from affected areas. Large national organizations may be doing the same thing for local chapters. My sorority has a fund specifically for sisters going through extreme distress due to natural disasters.

2. Local organizations - Look for organizations based in the devastated areas. Not only are you guaranteed your donation is going to the people in need, but these organizations often fill unique needs. Think diaper banks, schools, churches, etc.

3. Ask locals - If you know people in the areas ask them what they need. This is especially true for people who evacuated and aren't able to return. After Katrina friends of family furnished our apartment in Birmingham and provided school supplies, things we desperately needed in order to try and move onto a normal life again. If you have friends who didn't need to evacuate or were able to return, ask them where you should donate. They are the ones actually there seeing who is helping and how much.

What other ways have you heard of to help after a natural disaster?

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