Recovery efforts continue across the six states hit by the tornado outbreak in December. Given the devastating impact of the natural disaster, especially in hardest-hit Kentucky, any kind of outside help can go a long way.
If you’re thinking about helping the recently affected families and communities, donating money or goods is a good place to start. Here are a few donation methods to choose from:
Monetary donations – Sending cash is ideal because it allows charities and organizations to buy food, provide temporary shelter, and gather other necessities. While you can give money directly to those affected, you’re advised to course them through legitimate groups, including organizations that specialize in dealing with the causes and effects of tornadoes.
In-kind donations – You can send material donations such as food, clothes, and electronics. However, there are some considerations to make when donating these items. The most common is whether you can combine some goods, such as non-perishable food with bottled water and drinks, which in turn ensures they will last. You can also choose to gather hygiene products and cleaning supplies and course them through a volunteer group.
Other types of support – Aside from a quick $10 donation, the American Red Cross welcomes blood donations, which will be sent to hospitals in affected areas. This keeps the blood and platelet supply flowing in storm-stricken places where injuries and other health emergencies run high.
There are also organizations that collect goods for children, like books and toys. Others provide counseling and support and these groups most times need funds to get going – but instead of offering money, volunteer your time and effort in packing donations or lend your specific expertise, such as project coordination.
How To Help Those Impacted by the Tornado Outbreak
Communities struck by tornadoes and thunderstorms often need immediate assistance in various forms. Here are different ways you can respond directly through existing and recently established organizations:
Do Your Research
Conduct your due diligence before sending in money or goods. You are responsible for finding a reputable or reliable group as this ensures your donation is put to good use. Luckily, it’s easy to discover legitimate charities or organizations these days. A quick search on the Better Business Bureau Wise Giving Alliance, CharityNavigator, GuideStar, and the like can provide you with charity ratings and reviews that can help you find a trustworthy charity or organization to support.
On a related note, you can also back organizations that conduct research on how to minimize the causes and effects of tornadoes.
Look for Volunteering Options
There are now multiple ways to volunteer aside from being physically present at the disaster sites. Opportunities include providing mental and emotional support to tornado survivors for mental health professionals; organizing an online fund-raising event on social media; and supporting brands and businesses with disaster relief initiatives.
On the other hand, if you can visit an affected community, you can join an existing organization (more on this in the next section) or a recently built one like a disaster relief volunteer group.
Contact Friends and Family
Whether or not they’re impacted by the effects of tornadoes, check in on your friends and relatives living in the affected areas and let them know you’re willing to help. Now, if you cannot provide for their specific needs, you can reassure them that you’ll find someone who can.
If you live near any disaster-struck areas you might consider offering temporary shelter to individuals or families in need. If you cannot provide shelter in your own home, search for one through the Federal Emergency Management Agency. You can text SHELTER and the person’s zip code to 43362 (4FEMA) to search for nearby options.
Give Financial Assistance
If you have the means, then offer monetary donations to those in need. However, you can also offer financial assistance by setting up a fundraising platform such as GoFundMe or Mightycause. Alternatively, encourage your friends, family, and neighbors to support a trusted relief operation.
Offer to Replace Lost Items
You can help families suffering the fallout of the tornado outbreak or storm damage to set up a wishlist of things they need to replace. Then ask permission to share the list with your friends, family, and social network so others can chip in. It will also help if you choose which items to cover so you can set a target amount at the outset. Once the funds are collected, you can now start to buy the items requested by the beneficiaries.
Some Trusted Organizations You Can Work With
There are many local charities and organizations to choose from if you want to support those suffering from the destruction brought about by the recent tornado outbreak.
American Red Cross
This non-profit organization is renowned for its disaster relief operations. As such, it was one of the first to respond after tornadoes hit several states in December. Aside from monetary and material assistance, the American Red Cross continues to help by conducting damage assessments of houses affected by the storm.
Connecting individuals with their family and friends after the storm is also made possible by this group’s partnership with Safe and Well.
Arkansas- and Kentucky-Focused Relief Efforts
If you would like to focus on sending aid to families and communities in Arkansas and Kentucky, you can get in touch with Pittsburgh-based Brother’s Brother Foundation, which redirects funds to food banks in the two states.
Further, here are more organizations with targeted efforts you can check out:
Kentucky Baptist Convention – An organization of Baptist groups helping its teams on the ground through fundraising.
Kentucky Branded – A Lexington-based clothing store in Lexington selling “Pray for Kentucky” t-shirts and donating all proceeds to affected communities.
The Western Kentucky Tornado Relief Fund – Dedicated to the relief efforts done in the wake of the tornado and the rebuilding of communities required for the long term.
This non-profit organization has community-based partners in Louisville, Kentucky. Through local connections, it channels monetary donations to provide families in the state with food, water, shelter, and financial assistance.
Since 2004, Global Giving has been dedicated to disaster relief and has raised funds amounting to over $100 million. It started raising money to send aid to the Midwest states. The first rounds of donations went to providing essentials to the victims during the tornado’s aftermath. Once food, water, shelter, hygiene products, and the like have been gathered, it will focus on offering long-term aid to help families and communities rebuild their homes and lives.
There are multiple ways to extend your help to people recovering from the impact of the tornado outbreak. When considering the causes and effects of tornadoes, these disasters can cause significant damage to people’s homes. The best way for you to help depends entirely on your proximity to the site of the disaster. You can offer money, material assistance, and even some form of intangible support like time, energy, and expertise.
If you’d like to get creative and make a difference, you can sponsor rebuilding a family’s home and support their recovery from storm and tornado damage. In this case, talk to a professional who understands the unique problems tornado survivors face. It will definitely take some planning, preparation, and experience to make this happen. This is a great opportunity to do your part in helping affected communities bounce back from tornadoes and storm damage.