Several of the largest natural disasters have occurred recently. These include the earthquake and tsunami in South East Asia and Hurricane Katrina in the Southern United States. Thousands of disasters occur every year. They all don't affect thousands of people, but the impact is as dire for each one that has to experience it. Each time a disaster occurs our hearts go out to those affected. However, what can we do when we are many miles away?
The following are some of the ways you might contribute to others affected by a disaster:
1. Pray. If you believe that miracles happen every day, as I do, then prayer should be at the top of your list.
2. Give Blood. There is always a need for blood. Especially when major disasters occur. Contact the Red Cross to learn about giving blood and schedule a time to donate at 1-800-GIVELIFE.
3. Send Notes. Give hope to the victims of the disaster as well as the relief workers by sending an encouraging note. If you do not have specific individuals to send to, send your notes to the local area through relief agencies, churches, schools and newspapers.
4. Volunteer. Go with a group to the location of the disaster to be a part of the rebuilding process. This could be with a local church or organization. You can also donate your time to volunteer organizations that respond to disasters. One of the first to respond is the Salvation Army. You can register your desire to volunteer by contacting your local Salvation Army office.
5. Donate Funds. Make a financial contribution to organizations that support the victims of the disaster. The Red Cross responds to thousands of disasters each year. You can donate at 1-800-HELP-NOW.
6. Donate Items. When disaster strikes, people can be without necessities for a long time. You can help by donating some of these items. If you want to support relief efforts by providing items, one of the best ways is to build and send relief kits. The United Methodist Committee on Relief and Operation Blessing are two organizations that teach you how to make the relief kits and where to send them. You can contact these organizations at 1-800-814-8765 and 1-757-226-3401, respectively.
7. Provide Shelter. If you are a property owner with vacant rental housing, you might help those driven from their home. Contact Disaster Housing Resources Online to learn more and register your available space.
8. Have a Fundraiser. If you cannot afford to donate funds, conduct a fundraising event. The event does not need to be extravagant. I am aware of adults and kids that raised money for a cause by having a yard sale and selling lemonade.
9. Purchase Items. Shop at stores and eat at restaurants that donate a portion of their profits to support disaster relief efforts. You will discover several businesses making this kind of contribution following major disasters.
This list is a sample of things you could do. I challenge you to identify two or more ways you plan to contribute to disaster relief efforts. Act on them starting today.