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Donations and Volunteers: How to Help
Remember “Cash is Best”
Financial contributions to voluntary agencies can be used to purchase specific needed items on scene which helps the local economy and prevents voluntary partners from having to transport items at great expense. See the links below to donate cash to the active voluntary agencies working in the state of your choice.
Collecting Goods Is Not Favored
A picture can be worth a thousand words. The pictures below show what can happen when well-meaning citizens overwhelm a disaster impacted area by sending unneeded and unwanted items.
Clothing, household items, and food are best provided by well-funded voluntary agencies and not through the expensive process of collecting, sorting, packaging, transporting, receiving, sorting, and distributing of goods. But if you do host a collection, know the facts: (1) what is needed, (2) where it is needed, (3) who will receive and distribute it, and (4) how they want it packaged and shipped. Speak to voluntary agencies working the disaster to determine what the specific needs are before you collect. Better yet, post an offer of goods at the links provided below for the state of your choice. Voluntary partners and emergency management will review your offer and advise you if it is needed.
Volunteering Your Time
The best way to volunteer after disaster is through affiliating with a recognized disaster-related voluntary agency. Unconnected volunteers who show up at disaster sites are called “spontaneous unaffiliated volunteers” and often require the support of already busy agencies and officials. It’s better to volunteer through an organization, a church, or at a minimum, by connecting with the volunteer coordination offices in the state of your choice.