Disasters are paradoxical. Disasters are hell, but they also bring out the best in everyone. Everyone wants to help in the wake of Hurricane Harvey, but many don’t want to donate to the Red Cross. If that’s you, I’ve listed some different options below.
I know I said “other than the Red Cross,” but it’s the largest group out there and deserving of a mention. Text “Harvey” to 90999 to donate $10 to the Red Cross, deducted from your cell phone bill. Tito’s Vodka, a Texas-based company, is matching these donations.
You won’t go wrong donating to United Way. It’s a massive, worldwide organization with feet on the ground nearly everywhere.
God bless this guy. Say it louder for those in the back: God bless this guy. People often wonder whether the concepts of celebrity and kindness are mutually exclusive, as though those with fame only turn on the kindness burners for attention and backpats. Tim Tebow caught heat from it, and JJ Watt is no stranger to it. Can we put that to bed now? He originally wanted to raise $500,000; at the time of my posting, it is over $5,000,000.
Houston was flooded with shelter pets prior to Harvey, and natural disasters always displace a heavy number of animals. You can open your wallets or your homes to pets in need, some scared that they cannot find their humans. Foster homes for pets are at a critical low, so if you have ever considered fostering, please take it under advisement now. You can also donate via their websites or you can mail in checks (or Petco/Petsmart gift cards!).
The Houston Humane Society has also set up an Amazon wish list if you would like to purchase something from that, and it will be sent directly to them.
Created by Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner, you can now make a tax-deductible donation to the city of Houston (the funds will be housed through the Greater Houston Community Foundation, a 501(c)(3) public charity).
You can donate to the rescue directly through your iTunes app.
The Episcopal Relief group has been mobilized and is accepting monetary donations (thank you Molly for the suggestion!).
UMCOR (the United Methodist Committee on Relief) has feet on the ground in Texas and is requesting some specific help. Click on the link above, and it will take you to their site, which explains five ways you can help (thank you Amanda for the suggestion!).
This is a non-profit organization that offers a vast array of family services which include, among many others, an emergency shelter for juveniles. After working in foster care and dependency-neglect, this holds a special place in my heart. They are requesting monetary donations, but are also accepting gift cards (Wal-Mart, Target, Amazon, Old Navy, etc.), new pillows and blankets and towels, and personal hygiene items.
Luckily, the injury tally right now is low. Unfortunately, that may not stay steady, and if it doesn’t, blood banks need to be armed with both red blood cells and platelets. You can find a place to donate at the Red Cross website and at United Blood Services.
This San Antonio organization collects and distributes diapers and baby supplies to those in need. They are asking for both diapers and wipes (and, of course, your money will never be turned away). Your donations can be dropped off or mailed to 5415 Bandera Road, San Antonio, TX 78238.
There is (obviously) an immediate need for nurses in Texas, either with a Texas nursing license or a compact license. $40/hr, 12-hour shifts, food/shelter/gas provided, 5-day guarantee. If this is you, please contact Amy Peery at email@example.com
Got a place on Airbnb in Texas that you’d be willing to rent to displaced evacuees seeking accommodation? Click the link above and list your rental as available. Airbnb is waiving its fee for these rentals.
Lawyers probably weren’t the emergency responders that immediately came to your mind when you hear about a hurricane, but let me tell you why the Houston area is in need of some attorneys.
First, yesterday morning, an explosion rocked a building in downtown Houston. Housed in that building is Lone Star Legal Aid, an organization that provides quality legal representation to low-income individuals. Even when the storm subsides, that office will be displaced.
Second, because of a change in the Insurance Code, in order to ensure that your provider pays out in a timely manner (which will be a pain in this landscape), you need to have your claims filed by Friday. The claims must be in writing, and it is recommended that you email or fax them so you have a copy of the confirmation. This causes confusion in even the smartest of folks, and lawyers are always welcome to assist.
Yesterday, the Texas Supreme Court issued an order that would allow out-of-state attorneys admission to practice in Texas for pro bono work relating to the hurricane. No fee, no pro hoc vice requirements. Get retained by an organization, fill out the form, and you’re in. The State Bar of Texas has released a Volunteer Form, and the work does not require you to be on-site. If you’re an attorney in good standing in one of the other 49 states, I’d urge you to offer your services here.
Good rules of thumb:
Unless specifically requested, only give money. Your unsolicited clothing donations will result in a volunteer being pulled away to sort and find somewhere to store. It’s hard to know what is needed in that area when we are so far away. Give money so that those on the ground in the eye of the storm can decide how to allocate the funds, ensuring that it goes where it is most needed.
Stay the hell out of the way. Unless you are activated with an organization or are a part of the Cajun army, there is no reason to get into your Tahoe and make your way down into the line of fire to check out the devastation. Unless you are trained to do a needed, requested service, or you have a flat-bottomed boat and want to assist in evacuation, you will only become another person to rescue using Houston’s already-limited resources. Once the water begins to subside, regular, non-boat-bearing people can be of great use. Until then, don’t walk into the storm to take selfies.
If you know of other local organizations that could use some help, please let me know at firstname.lastname@example.org and I will add them.