By now, you've probably seen the images on the news.
Category 4 Hurricane Harvey has brought torrential rains and massive river flooding to southeast Texas, leaving 30,000 and counting without shelter. The destruction and damage has been widespread and, in some cases, fatal.
On behalf of Winspire, we extend condolences and prayers to all readers in the affected region. I also suspect many Winspire News readers are joining us in asking, How can I help?
In today's post, we will showcase dozens of organizations and campaigns administering relief to hurricane victims - from financial gifts to fostering pets, giving blood, in-kind gifts and more.
1. Support a crowdfunding campaign
First and foremost is the need for cash. The needs of a major disaster are so diverse, flexible funds empower those on the ground to administer aid as they see fit.
A hugely popular method of donating has been online crowdfunding sites. GoFundMe, for example, has created a landing page combining literally hundreds of campaigns created to help those impacted by Harvey. Many are for specific individuals, families, small business owners and neighborhoods devastated by the storm.
"To everyone helping, us here in Houston are truly grateful!!!" shares one commenter. "We are only halfway through the storm and our city is already completely under... many people are stuck as phone lines for help are backed up and a lot of people in danger can't get through!"
Houston Texans defensive end J.J. Watt tweeted his support for residents in the path of Harvey, sharing his own fundraiser via YouCaring. New Houston Rockets guard Chris Paul joined in the efforts, lifting the campaign over the half-million mark.
Like a wedding registry, Amazon wishlists are being created with 100% of items sent directly to hurricane victims. It's a convenient way to give in-kind donations without having to ship the items yourself. Two options:
- Merritt Law Firm, LLC in Dallas is filling multiple semi-trucks with these items, including feminine products and generators: Click to view list
- Provide clean, dry diapers, blankets, underwear and socks for the storm's youngest victims. Dallas nonprofit Baby2Baby organized this list for children: Click to view list
2. Support aid organizations
There are also general campaigns, on both crowdfunding sites and on org-specific websites, for humanitarian aid organizations. Immediate needs include food and water, shelter, first aid supplies, fuel, hygiene kits and clothing. Funds are also needed to support longer-term recovery and rebuild efforts.
Here's how you can give to global organizations collecting funds earmarked for hurricane relief.
- Salvation Army. The Salvation Army is offering physical, emotional and spiritual care for survivors and relief workers. To make a financial donation, visit www.helpsalvationarmy.org or text STORM to 51555 (you'll then be prompted to choose a donation amount).
- Operation USA. This organization is ranked 4 stars on Charity Navigator with an estimated 98 cents on the dollar going to relief. Click here to check it out.
- Save the Children. This international organization has established "child-friendly" spaces in evacuation centers and is providing food and water. Visit www.savethechildren.org or text "hurricane" to 20222 to make a $25 donation.
In addition to international aid, local nonprofits are leading the charge of relief efforts in hardest-hit areas.
- Rockport-Fulton Chamber of Commerce has created an official GoFundMe for relief efforts. Rockport was the first city pummeled by the storm when it reached land last Thursday, August 24. Many of its 5,000 residents are just now returning to uncover homes leveled with no power, water or cell phone signal.
- Houston SPCA. In disasters like oil spills and Hurricanes Katrina, Rita and Ike, Houston SPCA opened their doors to pets and farm animals in need. Today they seek funds for rescues, investigations and care for suffering animals.
- Portlight is arranging emergency assistance for disabled and older adults affected by the floods, including getting them to safety, providing durable medical equipment and protecting their civil rights.
- The Texas Diaper Bank of San Antonio is assembling disaster relief kits for families with young children. Relief agencies with extremely limited truck space are often unable to accommodate diapers. If you're in the area you can donate in-kind, or click here to give financially (and mark as "Disaster Relief").
Are you a local organization helpfing residents affected by Hurricane Harvey? The San Antonio Area Foundation is offering grants up to $50,000 for nonprofits doing so. To apply, visit www.saafdn.org/DisasterRelief.
3. Corporate donations
United Airlines will match the first $100,000 raised through its charitable campaign. Additionally, members of its frequent flyer program United MileagePlus who donate at least $50 to any of United's charitable partners will receive up to 1,000 bonus miles.
Home-sharing site Airbnb is pairing evacuees with welcoming homeowners. From now until September 1, they are waiving service fees for those seeking shelter from Harvey. A full list of locations can be found here.
Starbucks has donated $250,000 to relief efforts, and customers in any U.S.-operated store can make a donation at the register to the American Red Cross at the register.
An Anheuser-Busch brewery in Georgia made headlines this week for ceasing beer production to can safe drinking water for relief efforts. More than 155,000 cans are scheduled to arrive in Texas and Louisiana.
Tech giant Amazon will match cash donations made to the American Red Cross on Amazon up to $1 million.
4. Foster pets separated from owners
If you live near the area, animal shelter Austin Pets Alive! is seeking adult-only homes that can foster large dogs and cats with ringworm or cancer. In addition to cash donations, they're also seeking in-kind goods like liquid laundry soap, leashes, cat litter. Get the details here.
The Animal Defense League of Texas is also seeking foster homes for animals already in shelters and those continually being picked up. The organization is accepting financial and in-kind donations, including towels, flat sheets, blankets, crates and pop-up kennels. You can purchase these items from their Amazon wishlist and sign up to foster animals here.
5. Donate blood
Finally, international blood donation task force AABB put out a call urging Americans to give blood, especially those with type O-positive blood. Centers are expecting a supply shortage due to increased injuries and blood bank closures in the affected region. They recommend looking for a local blood drive or scheduling an appointment with one of these organizations:
- AABB: www.aabb.org; +1.301.907.6977
- America’s Blood Centers: www.americasblood.org
- American Red Cross: www.redcrossblood.org; +1.800.RED CROSS (+1.800.733.2767)
- Armed Services Blood Program: www.militaryblood.dod.mil; +1.703.681.8024
Stay safe, Texas.
Know additional ways to support Harvey relief? Please share in the comments below, and we will update the list.