Volunteering After a Disaster

Clean Up in Ocean City, Md.Superstorm Sandy came in on Monday and dumped over 15 inches of rain in Maryland, raised nearly 40-foot waves in the Atlantic Ocean, and caused over two feet of snow to fall in parts of Western Maryland, according to Accuweather.  But we were lucky enough to avoid the worst of the storm in most areas of Maryland.  Still, communities both here and further north are still working on recovering from Sandy.  For the damage that was done, here and to the rest of the Eastern seaboard, what can we do to help?

If you want to support recovery efforts, keep in mind a few things:

While your instinct may be to give what you can, make sure that the organization that you are donating to NEEDS those items.  Collecting and sorting donations takes time and money, so confirm that nonprofits are need of any goods you may want to donate before sending them.  One kind of donation that is always needed is blood donations.  The Red Cross is urgently asking for donations of blood– not only to replenish is needed by victims of the storm but also to make up for the cancellation of over 300 blood drives during the storm. 

Financial contributions to reputable organizations can be the best way to give.  In the aftermath of the storm, donations of money or gift cards allow organizations to be flexible and respond directly to the immediate needs of people.  If you feel that you don’t have much money to give, remember that even small contributions can add up to do a great deal of good.  You can donate directly to a charity you know, or find a number of the national organizations involved in recovery efforts through FEMA.

If you want to give your time as a volunteer with recovery and relief operations, make sure that you do so through an existing non-profit organization.  Communities can be overwhelmed by volunteers wishing to help and need to be able to direct your efforts.  By going through an established organization, not only will you be able to maximize your impact, but you also can ensure that you are receiving the necessary training for the work.  To find where volunteers are needed in your community, check with your local volunteer center.  If you want to go further abroad, you can find some of the major organizations that are involved in recovery and relief efforts listed online.

“Everyone is moved when they hear the news that disaster has struck a community. By learning and practicing the best ways to donate and volunteer, we can all make a huge difference in the lives of those affected.” 

~National VOAD


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