A variety of organizations has begun offering ways for area residents who help those affected by Hurricane Harvey in Texas.
The Red Cross is among the most visible organizations on the front line as the storm is still in the rescue-and-response phase. It’s at redcross.org.
Here in Kansas City, the Community Blood Center says donations of blood and platelets are needed to help along the Gulf Coast. The CBC has donation sites across the metro area, including one in Blue Springs. Call 1-877-468-6844 or go to savealifenow.org.
The Red Cross also does blood drives, though none are scheduled in Eastern Jackson County until Oct. 1 at Blue Springs Christian Church. Go to redcross.org and click “find a drive” for others in the metro area.
Hy-Vee is accepting donations of $1 or $5 at the cash register and matching those donations, up to $100,000. The giving period is today through Sept. 30. The donations go to the Red Cross.
The Federal Emergency Management Agency has offered some guidelines for giving. It stresses giving to “trusted, reputable, voluntary or charitable organizations” and says donations of money give those groups the most flexibility in dealing with the immediate situation.
FEMA also stresses this: Don’t just head to Texas to help – “self-deploy” in the language of emergency managers – but instead work through an organization. The group Texas Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster has a list of organizations it has vetted for volunteers, many of them faith-based groups. People who show up on their own actually add to the burden of first responders and will likely be turned away from the disaster scene.
On Tuesday, FEMA said to hold off on giving unsolicited goods such as used clothing, household items, medicine and food. At this time, staff at organizations helping people in and around Houston are needed for direct services rather than sorting materials.
The IRS points out that scammers try to take advantage of every disaster. Give to trusted groups. Be wary of groups whose names sound like well-known charities, and if you have a question about that, go to irs.gov and use the “exempt organizations select check” feature. Don’t give out personal information such as a Social Security number. Give by check or credit card so there’s documentation of your donation.