Thursday, August 31, 2017

How to help in a disaster situation

You want to help. I get it. These people have lost everything. SO!
What should you do to help the victims of natural disasters?

You know, it is different in every situation, but there are a few things they always need.
And a lot of things they DON'T.

Please, if I see one more "praying for Texas" I am going to Lose. My. Mind.

Those fine folks do not need your prayers. I mean, they do, go ahead and pray for them. But that won't help them find dry socks.

They need dry socks.
And new underwear.
Diapers and wipes.
Tampons and maxi pads and toilet paper and shampoo.
They need boots. Not just boots on the ground - they need those too - but they need BOOTS because those folks are about to be spending serious quality time slogging through some MUD.
They need reading glasses and cellphone chargers.
They need fans and extension cords and shovels and garbage bags and gorilla tape.
They need blankets and pillows and sleeping bags and rubber storage bins and sharpie markers.
They need shelf stable food that does not require refrigeration.
They need baby formula.
They need pet food.

And the best way for them to get these things is NOT to send the items into the disaster zone by mail, UNLESS an organization has specifically put out a specific request to YOU for specific items, and YOU send those specific items.

DO NOT respond to a public shout out on social media by collecting and then mailing things. It will arrive too late. And they will undoubtably be inundated with other people responding simultaneously - all of it delivered 3-7 days AFTER they needed whatever they asked for. And if word gets out that a shelter needs blankets, and it spreads on Facebook, and that shelter receives thousands of packages of blankets in the next few days, then not only do they have too many blankets, but they have a whole lot of cardboard, and no space to put the OTHER THINGS they need. Like, you know, food and water.

Same goes for sending used stuff. No one needs your discarded bling or your ratty tshirts or mis-matched socks. And the post office and UPS and FedEx have other better things to do than deliver boxes of shit you didn't need any more.

So, gentle reader, you may be sitting there flummoxed right about now. You want to help, I am listing the things that are needed and then telling you not to send them.
What the hell is wrong with me? I am wasting precious time!

Exactly. I am here to SLOW YOUR ROLL. Stop. Look. Listen. Respond in an organized manner with calm intention. Don't send boxes of stuff people needed four days ago. They probably got it already.

Send money. And send it to reputable organizations.
Don't want to send cash? They need gift cards to box stores that they can redeem where ever they end up once they are evacuated.
There are also Amazon wish lists that can get items where they need to go in live time.

Let's review.
Cash is good. Gift cards are good. Amazon wish lists are good.

Random boxees of your old shit? Bad.

I know some of you are going to send boxes anyway. You want to help, your church is putting together a collection. It's being driven down there this weekend.
Let me clarify, in case you are unsure.
Here are some things they DO NOT need:
old shoes and used underwear
anything that needs refrigeration
anything that's broken or missing pieces
So if you are going to send things anyway, against my advice and the numerous links I am going to share here, well..... the best rule of thumb is find an organization you want to support, and send EXACTLY WHAT THEY ASK YOU TO SEND. Don't editorialize. Don't send "whatever fits in the box" unless it is stuff they need and asked for specifically.

The last thing they need is a box full of crap they don't need and didn't ask for. So don't send that.

Really. Just don't do it.

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