How to help the people of Houston and surrounding areas

Evacuees arrive at the George R. Brown Convention Center after flood waters from Hurricane Harvey inundated the city on Tuesday in Houston, Texas. The evacuation center which is overcapacity has already received more than 9,000 evacuees with more arriving. (Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

HOPE61 Connecticut Helps Houston

People are looking for ways to help those impacted by the hurricane and the flooding that has followed Hurricane Harvey.

In the wake of a large scale disaster like this, authorities warn people to be wary of giving to unknown charities. Charity officials say the best thing to donate is cash. Clothing, furniture, cars, toys all create a logistical nightmare for charities. Organization like food banks can purchase greater quantities of  food at discounted rates if you make a cash donation.

“Be wary of charities that spring up too suddenly in response to current events and natural disasters,” the Federal Trade Commission website warns. The FTC also urges close vetting of solicitations posted on places like Facebook and Twitter.

The watchdog group Charity Navigator laid out five steps to make sure your donation makes the most impact: 

  • Be proactive in your giving –  identify causes are important to you, and be specific about the impact you want your donation to have.
  • Research before giving – Determine if the charity is a bona fide, tax exempt 501(c)(3) public charity. The charity should be financially healthy to support their mission. Lastly the organization should be accountable and transparent.
  • Find out the charities  accomplishments, goals, and challenges. If the charity cannot define these, it’s probably not worthy of your support.
  • Determine if lump sum donations or continuing donations through out the year would be best.
  • Follow up in six months to see how the charity used your donation.

Here are some charities that serve communities in need.

United Way

Red Cross

Americares

Salvation Army 

Southern Baptist Disaster Relief

Texas Diaper Bank – Helps with diapers and other needs for small children.

Feeding America – Links to food banks affected by the storm.

Living Hope Wheelchair Association – Assists handicapped storm victims

Catholic Relief Charities – Providing disaster relief services.

UJA Federation – Supplies short- and long-term aid.

ICNA – Charitable donations by the Muslim community

L.G.B.T.Q. Disaster Relief Fund – Assistance for the area’s LGBT community.

SPCA of Texas – Provides relief and housing for pets and animals displaced by the storm.

Austin Pets Alive! – The organization is moving pets out of the disaster zone.

Texas Workers Relief Fund  – A union-relief effort by the Texas AFL-CIO, and donations are tax-deductible. The local labor councils are providing material aid.

RNRN Disaster Relief Fund – The National Nurses United is organizing medical relief through this fund.

Coastal Bend Disaster Recovery Group Fund – This organization Coastal Bend towns hit directly by the hurricane.

Hurricane Harvey Relief Fund – Set up by Houston’s mayor to assist with victims of  flooding. Donations are tax-deductible.

RAICES in San Antonio – Provides direct help to immigrant families.

Organizations that have been vetted by FEMA can be found here.

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