How Austin can help Hurricane Harvey flood victims

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Harvey has impacted one-quarter of the Texas population. Give freely and give quickly, but first, a few things to note about how to make your gift have the most impact:

1. Monetary donations are the most effective right now. Disaster recovery happens in three stages, and the first stage is about stabilizing families and meeting their basic needs. Organizations use the money to purchase gasoline, supplies, some gift cards or cash to victims, food, water and more. Recovery agencies can leverage your dollar to make it go farther than you ever could, so don’t spent $15 on a case of diapers when the agency can use $15 to get three cases of diapers. Give money.

WATCH: Why giving money can be more powerful than giving stuff

2. Please do not donate items – anything from clothes to toiletries and diapers – unless you know there is a specific need. Once families are stabilized, they may need donations of clothing, furniture and the likes, but until they’re stabilized, your donation of those items is only a burden on the organization you’re giving them to. There are shelters and relief efforts across the state, so please call first before you deliver items that might actually be a burden to that relief effort. See the Austin Disaster Relief Network’s list of specific needs now. ADRN supplies needs for Coastal Texas recovery efforts as well as for Austin-area shelters.

WATCH: We toured the ADRN donation site. Here’s how it works.

3. Volunteers are needed, but right now it’s mostly unsafe to go into flooded areas. The Central Texas Red Cross reports that it processed and trained more than 2,000 volunteers this past weekend. Many are working in its shelter at the Delco Center where about 300 people from coastal communities and the eastern counties of Central Texas are staying, but until the flooded areas are safer, many are waiting to be deployed. Do not be deterred, but do be patient. Remember, disaster recovery is a long haul. You will be put to work.

4. Be careful who you give to. We’ve been writing about disaster-recovery giving for years, and from past experience we know that right about now is when lots of fake charities start to pop up with names that sound like a real organization. Be wary. Give to only those organizations you know. If you don’t know them, do a little digging to make sure they are an official 501c3 that operates in emergency needs, basic needs, disaster recovery and rescue efforts.

5. You can give directly to families in need. If you’d rather bypass nonprofits and other organizations, you can either browse Harvey-related GoFundMe or YouCaring pages or send money to people you know who have been affected. The IRS allows anyone to gift another person up to $14,000 a year without having to report it; do check with your tax accountant to be sure how a sizable gift might affect your tax filings.

Now, here’s a list of ways to help Harvey recovery efforts.

TO HELP FIRST RESPONDERS:

DONATE to Central Texas Red Cross. The Red Cross of mobilizes to serve victims in the immediate aftermath of a disaster. There are a number of ways to give specifically to aid Harvey victims.

  • Send a text message with the word “harvey” to 90-099 to donate $10, which will appear in your next cell phone bill
  • Visit redcross.org and click “Donate Funds”, then you can choose “Hurricane Harvey” from the dropdown menu.
  • Call 1-800-220-4095 to give over the phone and let respondent know you’d like the money to go to Harvey relief.
  • Mail a check to the Red Cross with “Harvey” in the memo line.

DONATE to Team Rubicon. Friends who’ve been through a disaster say that this group of volunteer military veterans was instrumental in helping organize, rescue, clean up and rebuild areas struck by disaster. For communities in a desperate situation, it’s a blessing to have an organized, experienced, disciplined and service-oriented group of volunteers to help. By the way, they’re also looking for military veterans and kickass civilians to volunteer.

DONATE TO the Salvation Army. They’re already on the ground serving meals and organizing shelters in Houston,Corpus Christi, Port Aransas, Aransas Pass, Ingleside, Portland… and continue to open shelters, deploy volunteers and serve food. To make a financial donation to support the Hurricane Harvey relief efforts

  • Go to www.helpsalvationarmy.org
  • Send a text message with the word “storm”to 51555
  • Call 1-800- SAL-ARMY
  • Mail a checks to The Salvation Army, PO BOX 1959, Atlanta, GA 30301. Please designate ‘Hurricane Harvey’ on all checks.

TO HELP LONG-TERM RECOVERY:

DONATE to the Hurricane Harvey Relief Fund. Launched by the Mayor of Hoursot and administered by the Greater Houston Community Foundation, which will deploy the funds to those nonprofit organizations working directly with victims to help them navigate recovery. Donors often want the money to go directly to the people who need it, but cash-in-hand can only do so much to help a family recover. Instead, donations to fund experienced social workers that can help people navigate federal agencies and insurance companies, that can negotiate with contractors and stores to get better pricing, or that can connect people to other services they need, can help a family go much further. http://ghcf.org/hurricane-relief/

DONATE to the United Way of Greater Houston Relief Fund. As with the community foundation fund, the money collected will be made in the form of grants to nonprofits serving the victims. United Way organizations often know the communities they serve better than other organizations, and they know the other nonprofits and people who can help your donations go farther.

TO HELP INDIVIDUALS AND FAMILIES:

DONATE to a Hurricane Harvey GoFundMe or YouCaring page. GoFundMe and YouCaring are fundraising platforms that can be set up by anyone, nonprofit or individual. It’s important to know that many fundraisers on these platforms are not nonprofit organizations. Donations to individuals or families do not qualify for a tax deduction, nor do you know exactly how the funds will be spent. To make sure your GoFundMe/YouCaring donation goes to an official 501c3 charity, look for the “Certified Charity” designation on the page.

If you are happy to support the recovery of an individual or family, feel free to donate to them on GoFundMe or Your Caring. These are often personal pages set-up as a way to have other friends and family contribute, so again, you can’t be sure how the money is spent. It’s better to know the person you’re giving to.

DONATE OTHER THAN MONEY: 

DONATE BLOOD to We Are Blood. On an average day, We Are Blood needs to see at least 200 donors per day, and that number is magnified during times of natural disaster. Many patients from coastal areas have been transported into hospitals in our 10-county region. The need for blood will continue well into the next few weeks, and because blood has a limited shelf life, it is important that we continue to support We Are Blood’s efforts to replenish their blood supply through the next month.

We Are Blood is encouraging anyone interested in donating blood to visit their website (weareblood.org) or to call 512-206-1266 to make an appointment to donate. Walk-ins are also accepted, but appointments help staff maintain a steady stream of blood donations to see us through this natural disaster while also helping replenish their supply for the needs they meet every day.

DONATE MONEY AND/OR ITEMS to Austin Disaster Relief Network. ADRN deploys volunteers to support families local shelters. Right now, ADRN is supporting about 300 flood victims, but it expects that number to multiply in the coming days. Funds will be distributed in the form of gift cards, emergency housing, emergency transportation and/or building materials to meet immediate and long-term needs.

ADRN is also accepting donations of new items like new underwear of all sizes, toiletries, new bedding and blankets, cleanup supplies and more. Check the ADRN website for more information about what and where to give.

UPDATE: See the latest on what ADRN needs here. 

 

TO VOLUNTEER:

VOLUNTEER with Austin Disaster Relief Network. All volunteers must go through a short training but can be deployed immediately to help take-in and sort donations at the thrift store. Others will be needed to help load the trucks heading to the areas impacted.

VOLUNTEER with the Red Cross. There’s training and maybe background checks to go through, but once you’re trained as a Red Cross volunteer you can be deployed a number of ways. Mostly, they’ll need folks to help man the shelters in our area.

ORGANIZE donation drives. Families, school groups, youth groups, offices and others are encouraged to organize and promote donation drives. Consider organizing a drive for ADRN’s thrift store, a blood drive, a food drive or even a fund drive. Leverage your network to raise more donations and have a bigger impact.

Please feel free to comment with more ways to give.

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1 Comment on How Austin can help Hurricane Harvey flood victims

  1. Great advice. Thank you! One more way to give-Sending gift cards in care of Parent Support Specialists at Title I schools is an easy way to distribute resources directly to the people who see children’s needs acutely and daily. Also allows you to be hyperlocal in your giving. Make it a habit. Many PSSs use their own money to buy granola bars, clean underwear, feminine hygiene products etc in even non-disaster times so they can always use your help.

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