Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Send money -- and nothing else

I have lots of updates to post, but my heart is not in it.  I will need to catch everyone up later, while I spend a few moments here with my disaster relief hat on.

Like most people, we have been devastated by the news from Moore, Oklahoma, and our hearts go out to the victims of the tornadoes there, and to all involved.  Regular readers will know that we have long been disaster relief volunteers with the American Red Cross, and we have spent many months working in the field at disasters all over the country over the past seven years.  I can not tell you how incredibly difficult it has been for us, as trained and able responders, to hear this news and not be available to deploy to the relief operations currently ramping up.

We are, as you know, immersed in some problems of our own right now that pretty much preclude us from responding this time, and we're still coming to terms with how we can continue to volunteer our time and abilities given our new circumstances.  So we are doing what everyone whose heart is moved to help should do -- sending money.  In addition to being volunteers, we have also long been American Red Cross donors, and it has probably not escaped your notice that the only external link on our blog is the donation link in the sidebar.

While I have an understandable fondness for the Red Cross, it really does not matter which major disaster relief organization gets your money, but that's what you should send -- not clothes, blankets, water, food, tools, or worst of all, yourself (unless you are already trained and being sent by an organization that is prepared to house and feed you on site).

I've said all this before, in particular here.  But it bears repeating, and in addition to the two excellent articles on the subject that I linked in that post, today I received a link to this article on the same subject, which is also spot-on.

Now might also be a good time to point out that after every major disaster, the scammers come out of the woodwork, and so I encourage you to make your donations directly to your chosen organization by typing in their web address directly, or going to the local office in your area.  And beware well-intentioned but ill-informed charities who do not specialize in disaster relief -- in every major disaster, for example, churches, schools, and other organizations all over the country like to collect clothing, blankets, toys, etc. to send to the disaster area, which is really not any better than equally ill-advised donations of such items by individuals.  When those items reach the disaster area, they will divert resources from more effective efforts, just to manage the mountain of unsolicited stuff.

If your local charities are collecting such items for "Oklahoma disaster victims," ask them first if they intend to turn the items into cash locally and send that money to relief organizations already on the ground in Oklahoma, or if they plan to send the items directly.  If it's the latter, perhaps you can educate them, even by sending them to the above links.  Trust me, as someone who has personally seen tons of well-intended donations go to waste: it's the right thing to do.

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