- Author: Jenna Colburn
Recently the news has been dominated by coverage of Hurricane Harvey's destruction in Texas and along the Gulf Coast. Thousands of people are estimated to be displaced. Hurricane Harvey could be the costliest natural disaster in U.S. history.
Locally in California, wildfires are burning in various parts of the state, with more expected during this spell of hot dry weather.
When you see area devastation and people suffering, your first response may be to start mobilizing to help. But first, you should:
Map out a plan
If you collect 1000 blankets, who will you give them to and how will you get them where they need to be? Are blankets what are really needed? The only way to answer these questions is to have good plan with plenty of support in place before your start your project. This will ensure that your efforts to make a difference will be successful and sustainable.
Unsolicited donated goods such as used clothing, miscellaneous household items, and mixed or perishable foodstuffs require agencies to redirect their valuable resources away from providing relief services. They will have to sort, package, transport, warehouse, and distribute items that may not even meet the needs of disaster survivors.
Find reputable local organizations to support
The best way to help in disaster areas is to support relief organizations that are already established in the area.
There are many resources to verify relief organizations:
- Give.org- the BBB Wise Giving Alliance
- National Public Radio lists organizations with presence in Houston and the surrounding affected areas.
- Texas Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster
Contact organizations that are able to accept goods before you start collecting items. Organizations will have different supply needs at different times during the disaster recovery.
Know our 4-H policy on fundraising and donating to non-profit organizations.
As an individual, you can make personal monetary donations to organizations to support relief efforts. The Texas 4-H Foundation is collecting cash donations to support 4-H club and county programs in the hurricane zone. https://texas4hfoundation.org/give/
4-H clubs cannot donate cash to or fundraise for other non-profit organizations. Instead, your club can create a sustainable Service Learning Project to support disaster relief organizations.
With a Service Learning Project, you will participate in the development of community partnerships and share responsibility with community members. You will also take an active role in improving society and improving the quality of life in the community.
Use the Service Learning Toolkit and Project Planning Guide
Evaluate your plan to ensure it is High Service/High Learning using the Standards of Quality in Service Learning. This 10 question checklist will help you determine how to make this a positive learning experience that benefits the community at the same time./h2>/h2>/h2>/h2>