Survivors of any natural disaster have needs but sometimes we get a little over zealous as to what to give them. Many times sending items that they cannot use at all. Sometimes these items are used gently but other times they are not used gently. Sometimes we send items that should only be new such as undergarments etc…
As a survivor myself, yes donating your gently used items is good, but is it what they need right now? Is it what they will use now or is it a need for later. When you really think about it, giftcards, and donating to places that will actually help the survivors and their families. Donate to places that are reputable and ask when donating to these organizations how much goes toward the survivors. If it is less than 5% I highly suggest that you look into another place. Yes some of these organizations intentions are good but will they (survivors) actually get the money? Ask questions before giving so you know exactly where your money is going. Don’t assume you know it is going to the survivors because it might not be. Also don’t assume it will be given to them in any shape or form. Please do your research as to where the donation is going. Think please before you donate and if it is actually going to help the survivors.
Now for actual donations for the survivors. Please donate only new items, such as razors, shampoo, conditioner, undergarments (never used), tubs, clorox wipes, hand sanitizer, masks (ones that protect the survivors from getting ill from the mold they face), Lens cleanser, reading glasses (different strengths), new stuffed animals (not until asked), gloves to work in their homes, tylenol, asparin, sunscreen (you will get burned without it and no trees), diapers, wipes, baby bottles, formula (all brands and all types), baby clothes, changing pads, shoes (new only – nothing used) that can work in the muck and mire, sippy cups, gloves (both latex and latex free gloves), Bibles, Notebooks, pens, pencils, paper, sanitary napkins (donate all types not just one types) etc… Donate items that they are asking for, if it is not listed then wait until they ask for it. Remember they need very few things. Those who are volunteers helping the survivors get what they need but sometimes it isn’t easy either. Churches have to sort through everything so they know what they are giving the survivors, but giving gently used items is not a good idea especially since some of the donations will not make it to the volunteers. Those donations that over fill the donation centers may end up in the trash. If you have gently worn it, find a place that will take your gently worn clothes such as a thrift store but never send them down to disaster relief area.
As for the survivors, their emotions are very very high. They have lost everything they own, and some of the momentos they cannot replace. They will go through the stages of grief, and it may take them awhile to do so. Be ready to be a listening ear when they need you to listen. Listen to them, listen to the memories they share with you. Don’t talk be the listening ear for them, but listen to God for your time to speak. This is hard and it will be fresh for months in the survivors minds. They have alot more on their plate than what a volunteer has, and crying is something that is normal. Pray with those who are hurting. Pray with those who need to be lifted up and pray for the protection of their health as they go about a new normal.
Remember those of us who are on the outside may not understand what it is like on the inside. Only those who have been through it. This is for every type of disaster. Remember to donate to an organization or church that is actually helping survivors, and not one that very little goes to the survivors.
This image has been floating around facebook, It is a chart as to where to donate. Please kep this in mind when donating.