While hurricanes Harvey and Irma has been downgraded to a tropical depression, the storms have caused significant damage and impacted the lives of millions of Americans. While many people feel the urge to help out, it is important to know the best way to help and where to donate.
The Center for International Disaster Information says many Americans respond to disasters by collecting food, clothing and household items for people in need. However, these donations require transportation and are not the most efficient way to help people in need. The center suggests people donate monetarily to relief agencies. The Better Business Bureau warns people to be aware of the charities they are donating to.
“BBB reminds donors to make sure they’re donating to real nonprofits who are able to deliver aid where it’s needed," Michelle L. Corey, St. Louis BBB president and CEO said. "Publicity about disasters often is used by scammers to solicit money that never reaches those who need it.”
Charity Navigator, an organization that helps analyze charities, warns people to avoid fly-by-night charities. The organization says people should find a charity with a proven track record. One way to find a reputable charity is through the Better Business Bureau's Accredited Charity Directory.
The Houston Food Bank is a member of the nation’s largest non-governmental hunger relief organization, “Feeding America.” Call 832-269-9390 or visit HoustonFoodBank.org.
Feeding Texas is a statewide nonprofit organization that helps coordinate major relief efforts, such as the Harvey response. Call 512-527-3613 or visit FeedingTexas.org.
The Houston Coalition for the Homeless is a 35-year-old nonprofit organization that serves as the lead agency for community response to homelessness in the Houston area. Call 713-739-8038 or visit HomelessHouston.org.
The Houston SPCA is the city’s first and largest animal protection organization. It has suspended normal operations to focus on disaster response. Call 713-869-7722 or visit HoustonSPCA.org.
Save the Children is preparing to respond to the needs of vulnerable children and families affected by the storms. You can donate to its relief fund here.
Volunteer Florida is looking for volunteers to work in the state's shelters and other disaster relief organizations. You can register and find out more here. Gov. Rick Scott also noted that people can text "DISASTER" to 20222.
Direct Relief USA is a humanitarian aid nonprofit organization that operates the largest charitable medicine program in the country. Call 800-676-1638 or visit DirectRelief.org.
The Texas Diaper Bank typically serves about 16,000 families each year, distributing more than 1.1 million diapers. Call 210-731-8118 or visit TexasDiaperBank.org.
The American Red Cross is operating shelters and sending truckloads of supplies to the storm-battered region. Call 800-RED-CROSS or text HARVEY to 90999 to make a $10 donation.
The Salvation Army Emergency Disaster Services division has mobilized to assist those affected by the storm. Call 800-SAL-ARMY or visit helpsalvationarmy.org.
Catholic Charities USA is a social services organization and the official domestic relief agency of the U.S. Catholic Church. Services are provided without consideration of religious affiliation. Text CCUSADISASTER to 71777 to make a donation or visit CatholicCharitiesUSA.org.
The United Way has established a Flood Relief Fund to assist various agencies responding to Harvey. Text UWFLOOD to 41444 to make a donation or visit UnitedWayHouston.org.