We were absolutely heartbroken when we heard the news and saw images of the devastation from Hurricane Harvey, leaving many of our friends, family and neighbors in southeast Texas without power, cars, homes and basically losing almost every possession they owned. It is mind-blowing to see how one storm could cause so much damage to a city as big and powerful as Houston. The smaller surrounding cities and gulf coast were hit just as badly, many without the resources to help rebuild their city as quickly as Houston.
With Hurricane Irma barreling through the Caribbean and most of Florida this week, many of the relief organizations have been inundated with calls, trying to keep up with responding to the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey and Irma in a two-week time frame.
I am sure many of you, like me, felt compelled to help those in need but was not sure where to start. Below are a few suggestions on how you can make a difference - in big and small ways. Every little bit of effort helps and appreciated so do what you can and show up for the people and the community you love.
MAKE A MONETARY DONATION:
Americares is providing emergency health care access in Texas for Harvey victims, is also partnering with health centers in Florida along Irma's path.
The crowdfunding platform, GoFundMe, has designed a landing page that aggregates all campaigns created by and for Florida victims as well as relief efforts in the Caribbean. Hurricane Harvey also has a similar page where people can donate to a direct-impact fund or create their own fundraisers.
Habitat for Humanity is working with its local offices in Florida and the Caribbean to inspect damage from Irma. The group is helping families clean up after both Harvey and Irma and will help with rebuilding efforts. Donations can be made at habitat.org/hurricanes or by calling 1-800-HABITAT.
Make a donation to one of the many schools in the Houston area that were damaged by Hurricane Harvey. Many of the flooded schools had to relocate to new campuses so funds raised will go towards purchasing new supplies, books and classroom materials as well as aide in helping the school's families and staff with personal recovery efforts. You can donate to some of the districts that got hit the hardest: Katy ISD Education Foundation, KIPP Houston Public Schools or Houston ISD Foundation.
Donate to the Houston Food Bank and designate your donation specifically for disaster relief. The Houston Food Bank’s greatest need is for funds that will help provide relief and continue recovery efforts. Donations will be used for disaster relief until this year’s needs are met, and the remaining funds will support ongoing hunger-relief efforts.
Hurricane Harvey Relief Fund, a 501(c)(3) public charity established by Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner and County Judge Ed Emmett when they received an overwhelming response from citizens and companies who want to help aid in Hurricane Harvey relief. The Hurricane Harvey Relief Fund will accept tax-deductible flood relief donations for victims affected by the recent floods.
Operation USA, a Los Angeles-based disaster relief group, offers a wide variety of ways to lend a hand from sending a check to donating air mileage.
PayPal has also launched a disaster relief campaign and says it will waive processing costs to ensure that 100% of donations go toward the effort. The company, which is also running a campaign for Harvey, is a sponsor of a telethon called Hand in Hand – A Benefit for Hurricane Relief. It aired Tuesday evening on multiple networks and feature more than 40 celebrities.
And Pet Smart Charities says it has committed $1 million in grant funding to help pets and pet families in need after Irma and $2 million to Hurricane Harvey relief. Shoppers also can donate to hurricane relief efforts at PetSmart stores.
Make a donation to the Rebuild Texas Fund, which was created by the Michael & Susan Dell Foundation in collaboration with the OneStar Foundation. The four focus areas of the fund include health and housing; schools and child care; workforce and transportation; and capital for small businesses. The Dells are working to raise a total of $100 million for the long-term relief, recovery, and rebuilding efforts for all affected communities in Texas. Google will match the first $500,000 of donations through a pledge challenge. Volunteers from Google's Austin office and TEGNA employees will staff the phone banks at select station locations across the state.
The Red Cross, says it has mobilized its second massive hurricane response in two weeks and is providing critical aid for Irma and Harvey victims.
The Salvation Army has mobilized Harvey and Irma relief teams to provide meals, shelter and emotional and spiritual care, the organization says.
Retailer Target has pledged up to $1 million for Hurricane Irma relief. The donation is in addition to the $3.5 million the company committed last week to Hurricane Harvey assistance. Target says the money will benefit the store's team members affected by the storms and other national and international relief organizations.
The American University of Antigua has created a fund specifically for the battered nation of Barbuda to provide food, water and medicine in addition to longer-term recovery assistance. All donations to this fund will be matched by AUA, the university says.
Finally, make sure your money is going to a reputable organization. Unfortunately there are some charities out there who try to take advantage during needy times. Check out Charity Navigator, a watchdog that appraises trustworthy charities based on their tax filings. You can find the approved list of where to donate for Hurricane Irma victims here and to Hurricane Harvey victims here. The group of analysts advises people to research relief organizations before making a donation.
VOLUNTEER YOUR TIME:
Volunteer shifts apply, open daily (including Sunday and Labor Day)
Morning: Monday-Sunday, 8 a.m. to noon
Afternoon: Monday-Sunday, 1 to 4 p.m.
Evening: Monday-Friday, 6 to 9 p.m.
Become a disaster volunteer with the Red Cross and help assist in the efforts for Hurricane Harvey and Irma relief.
Walk a dog, feed a cat or help clean out kennels at your local animal shelter that has taken in displaced pets and animals from the storms. Here in Austin and on the ground in Houston, Austin Pets Alive! has taken in over 2,000 animals with the number of dogs in foster to have tripling and the number of cats in foster to have doubling in size. Consider fostering or adopting an animal. With more animals than ever in APA!'s care, this is the perfect time to offer a forever home to a pet in need.
Deliver meals for Meals on Wheels. The disabled and elderly are hit hard when a major disaster like this happens because they might not have any means to escape from their houses and find a refuge from the storm or they might not know who to call for help. Last week we saw the need for drivers to deliver meals to Meals on Wheels clients in the Greater Houston area so we stepped up and drove to Houston to fulfill a delivery route. Many of the normal delivery drivers had also been effected by the storm and were unable to pick up their normal routes, which meant that those clients weren't going to receive their meals for the weekend.
DONATE GOODS OR SERVICES:
Join Airbnb and help to host a refugee who is in need of shelter during this transitional time. This community of hosts are providing free accommodation to those in need. When you provide temporary shelter to evacuees, you’re helping to rescue and rebuild lives.
The Houston Food Bank is in desperate need of the following items:
- Canned ready-to-eat items with pull tops: vegetables, fruit
- Protein in pouches or pull-top cans: tuna, beef stew, chili, canned chicken
- Peanut butter
- Snacks: granola bars, breakfast bars, etc.
- Paper goods
- Cleaning supplies: mops, mop buckets, brooms, bleach wipes, bleach, garbage bags, bug spray
Drop off curbside at 535 Portwall
Now until further notice
8:00 a.m. - 6:00 p.m. Monday - Friday
8:00 a.m. - 3:00 p.m. Saturday/Sunday
If you don't live in Houston, you can always purchase through Amazon and have your donation sent to their the Houston Food Back Warehouse at the above address,
Donate supplies to the Refugee Services of Texas-Houston. A list of supplies needed by this charity, which provides resettlement services to refugees and other displaced persons in the Houston area, can be found on their Amazon wish list. Needed items range from dictionaries to coffee filters.
Many HISD families have been devastated by the catastrophic flooding in the Houston area caused by Hurricane Harvey, and HISD welcomes assistance from national groups or corporations that would like to help our students recover and prepare for the coming school year.
The district is accepting donations of new and unused clothing, shoes, underwear, socks, uniforms and school supplies, as well as canned food and water.
Donations can be shipped to:
HISD Harvey Donations
2020 Mangum Road
Houston, TX 77092
ATTEND A FUNDRAISING EVENT IN YOUR AREA:
Just on the heels of the George Strait & Friend Benefit Concert is the Harvey Can't Mess With Texas Concert benefiting the Rebuild Texas Fund at the Frank Erwin Center in Austin on September 22nd. C3 Presents is of course in on the action pulling in some stellar headliners such as Willie Nelson, Leon Bridges, James Taylor, Paul Simon and many more! The Rebuild Texas Fund is an amazing organization created by the Michael & Susan Dell Foundation in collaboration with the OneStar Foundation. The four focus areas of the fund include health and housing; schools and child care; workforce and transportation; and capital for small businesses.
Check your local newspaper or online publication for events that are donating proceeds to relief efforts. Here is a link to many fundraising events going on here in Austin.
LET US NOT FORGET THAT THERE ARE OTHERS IN NEED:
Also, we should not forget the disastrous fires that are blazing cross in the Pacific Northwest. Below is list of ways that you can help with relief efforts.
The Community Foundation of North Central Washington is collecting donations for victims of the fires through the Chelan Valley Fire Relief Fund. Visit cfncw.org/fire or call 509-663-7716.
The Red Cross is accepting donations for wildfire-disaster relief, which allows it to set up shelters and provide quick help. Visit redcross.org, call 800-RED-CROSS, or text REDCROSS to 90999 to give $10.
The United Way of Chelan and Douglas counties is taking donations through its Sleepy Hollow fire-relief fund. Visit uwcdc.org or call 509-662-8261. Donations can also be mailed to P.O. Box 488, Wenatchee, WA 98807.
The Missoula United Way has set up a fund to aid those affected by the Rice Ridge Fire near Seeley Lake, and a fund for evacuees from the Lolo Peak Fire. You can contact the Missoula United Way at 406-549-6104.
The 406 Family Aid Foundation was formed "To aid persons and their families in Western Montana who are experiencing financial hardship caused by unforeseen illness, complications of a previous illness, loss in a family or natural disaster.” They're accepting donations for Lolo Peak Fire evacuees at www.406familyaidfoundation.org.
Garfield County Fire Foundation Relief Fund has been set up to help victims of the Lodgepole Complex, Montana's largest fire this year, which burned nearly over 270,000 acres in Eastern Montana. You can donate online at https://fundly.com/garfield-county-fire-foundation
Checks can be made to Garfield County Fire Foundation c/o Garfield County Bank PO Box 6, Jordan, MT 59337 (406-557-2201) or send to Circle c/o Redwater Valley Bank, PO Box 60, Circle, MT 59215 (406-485-4782).
The American Red Cross of Montana has opened 10 shelters for fire evacuees in Montana this year, including for Sunrise Fire evacuees near Superior, and evacuees from Seeley Lake. You can donate online at http://www.redcross.org/local/montana or call 800-272-6668
American Red Cross said the public can donate on their website under Oregon Wildfires of Local Red Cross. or by calling 503.528.5634.
The Hood County Search and Rescue and Friends of the Columbia Gorge are also accepting donations on their website.
There’s been a GoFundMe campaign set up to help the Oregon Firefighters Association that people can send donations. Here’s the link.
Have a cause that you are particularly passionate about to help with Hurricane Harvey and Irma relief efforts or the fires in the Pacific Northwest? Share the non-profit you are contributing to and why you feel that it is a great charitable cause to support in the comment section below.