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Thu, Sep. 1st, 2005, 08:08 pm
Katrina Relief

There's been plenty of talk about Katrina, its impact, its aftermath and its political implications, so let's just focus on spreading some ways to actually do something.

The obvious is to give money, of course. The American Red Cross is a tried-and-true source for disaster relief. Oxygen is donating $1 for everyone who signs up through their social networking donation site. DonorsChoose is running a very smart campaign, where you donate money to help fund schoolchildren to put together volunteer efforts; there's nothing like teaching the next generation that helping others is a priority, while helping those others at the same time. (Note: the DonorsChoose Katrina campaign is not yet featured on their home page, but I've gotten emails about it and it should be up soon.)

There are plenty more places to give; a search for "Katrina Donations" will turn up a bunch of reputable ones.

For some people, that won't feel like enough. (Hell, donating money sure doesn't feel like much to me.) For those who are wondering what more they can do, Hurricane Housing is trying to match the newly homeless with people willing to donate space in their homes to house them. Particularly if you're in the South or Southeast, this is a great way to make a concrete difference in the lives of those affected by this disaster.

Unfortunately, I can't plausibly host anyone in my very small one-bedroom apartment for any length of time. While I'm going to sign up to donate housing on a very temporary basis, I'm looking for some other way to make a concrete difference short of going down there and offering my time. If people come across other not-just-donate-money resources for Katrina, I'd appreciate it if you could point them my way.

Fri, Sep. 2nd, 2005 02:16 pm (UTC)

In situations like this, cash is actually one of the most helpful resources you can provide. I understand and share the feeling of inadequacy that shooting off some money brings. It isn't much of a sacrifice, but it is a versatile tool that helps an organization do what it needs to do.

What people definitely should not do is show up at a disaster site expecting to help. Unfortunately, one of the things government and relief agencies have to deal with at a disaster site is management of the well-meaning but untrained volunteers who inevitably show up in droves. Such volunteers end up costing resources instead of providing them despite the best of intentions.

Actually, a good way to support relief efforts is to donate your time locally. As resources get redirected to combat a disaster, local needs remain and can be neglected. Make your own little corner of the world a little bit better; it may not seem like much, but it's a start.

Fri, Sep. 2nd, 2005 02:54 pm (UTC)

I know that showing up wouldn't be very useful, practically. That was more of a fantasy than anything else . . . it's just that I can donate relatively little money, big-picture, but I do have rather a lot of free time for the next ten days, until school really gets going. I wish there was some constructive way I could donate that instead.

I do like your idea of making sure people up here still get taken care of. I'm going to see what I can do about that. I work with an organization that gets leftover food to homeless shelters (on a massive scale - they're really cool) so I'm going to call them up this weekend and see what they need.

Thanks for the advice!