With the flood waters of Harvey starting to recede, people living in the Houston area and the Gulf Coast are just starting to assess the damage and full impact of the disaster. The recovery process will take years and has been cited as one of the costliest disasters in U.S. history. With all the media coverage that the storm received, your kids may have asked you, “Is there anything I can do to help out?”
Your family’s first reaction to the news stories may be to gather up old clothes and extra canned goods. Though well intentioned, often these types of donations get more in the way, than help the disaster relief effort. Often there are too many supplies and not enough money to get donations to the disaster site. And, even if they do make it there, there’s generally not enough recovery workers or volunteers to sort through the stuff, organize it and distribute it to those in need. The influx of contributions is often referred to as “the second disaster.”
Cleaning up after a flood is a long and hard process. Because of the water, mud and contaminants, many items are unsalvageable and will need to be disposed of. The Mayor of Houston stated that they estimate the debris removal budget alone will be in the excess of $250-300 million. Why add to the pile of stuff that will need to be hauled off and discarded?
If kids can’t send or collect food and clothes, how can they help?
Kids & Families Can Make a Donation
When there’s a disaster, many worthy local and national organizations will be looking for donations. Before giving, do your homework, be sure the organization is legitimate and learn how they will use your donation. Here are a few charitable organizations located in the Houston area, as well as, national organizations that are helping people affected by Hurricane Harvey:
- American Red Cross
- Direct Relief
- Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston
- Central Texas Food Bank
- Convoy of Hope
- Houston Food Bank
- Houston Humane Society
- Legacy Collective
- Samaritan’s Purse
- Save the Children
- The Greater Houston Community Foundation
- The SPCA of Houston
- The Texas Diaper Bank
This is just a few of the great organizations helping in a time of crisis. For even more, visit Charity Navigator, which has compiled a list of highly-rated charities responding in the wake of the Hurricane Harvey devastation.
Kids and Families Can Raise Funds
If you’ve already donated and want to give more, here’s a few ideas on how your family can raise additional funds:
- Organize a Fundraiser: Silent Auctions and Raffles are both good ways to raise funds. Ask a local business, or two, if they’re willing to donate a few items and then auction or raffle them off. The proceeds can then be donated to a non-profit organization working to assist disaster victims.
- Organize a Community Event: Kids can organize a walk, run, bake sale, lemonade stand or other activity to raise money. Not only, are these great ways that kids can be hands-on and take the lead in the fundraising effort, they’re also fun.
- Plan for Future Donations: If kids receive an allowance, they can set aside a certain amount of it each week or month to donate. Once they’ve saved a designated amount, they can “pay it forward” to a charity of their choice. With the degree of damage in disaster-struck areas, the need for donations and funds will be ongoing and your family’s help will be appreciated just as much or more in the future.
Why Kids Should Give
Making a monetary donation, may not feel personal for some kids or even adults. And, of course, some of us have more to give than others. Just remember that every donation no matter how big or small will have an impact and that it’s one of the most compassionate things your kids and family can do to support the recovery efforts. Helping others in a time of need, especially as a family, is one of the most rewarding experiences parents and children can share.
We’d love to hear how your family helps out after a disaster! Share all your great ideas in the Comments section below.