Alabamians who want to help victims of Hurricane Sandy, a massive storm that ravaged the East Coast should donate cash. A disaster education specialist with the Alabama Cooperative Extension System says cash will go directly to meet specific needs in flooded areas.
“Cash really is best,” says Dr. Virginia Morgan White. “It is better to donate cash instead of goods because local responders can more readily convert that into what is needed.
“I understand people’s desire to send something tangible,” she says. “But cash donations offer relief organizations the most flexibility to respond to their particular needs at a particular moment in the recovery effort.”
White, Alabama Extension’s Disaster Education Network leader, says that people wanting to donate cash can use the National Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster website at http://www.nvoad.org/donate. This site provides links to a wide and diverse group of organizations active in disaster recovery.
Donations such as clothing and household items can be difficult for disaster responders to handle and might not be needed in some areas. She suggests that individuals and groups with goods they want to donate might be more effective if they sell those items at a garage sale and then donate the money raised.
“Identify the need,” says White. “For example, if you have a sister city or contacts with a faith-based organization in the affected area, see what they need.”
She encourages people who want to help to consider becoming a trained volunteer with a relief organization such as Red Cross. She adds that people should not go to any of the affected areas without first becoming an accredited volunteer with a recognized organization.
“It may be too late for relief efforts related to Sandy to become a trained volunteer, but use this as the impetus to get volunteer training.”
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