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Thursday, March 28, 2013

What to Do When Disaster Strikes

Americans are generous and eager to help their neighbors in a crisis - whether those neighbors are next door, across the country, or on the opposite side of the world.

A month after Superstorm Sandy hit the Northeast coast, charities had raised more than $244 million. In the first month after the 2011 earthquake and tsunami in Japan, Americans had contributed more than $246 million to the cause. Charities responding to the devastating 2010 earthquake in Haiti received more than $709 million in donations in the first month and a total of $1.4 billion within the first year. One month after Hurricane Katrina in 2005, U.S. donors gave more than $1.4 billion which ultimately grew to $6.5 billion during the years that followed.

Here are some ways that local communities can band together to both support the victims of disasters and to make sure they are prepared to meet their own needs in a future crisis:
  1. Have a fundraiser and donate the proceeds to an established charity. Bake sales, block parties, garage sales, lemonade stands and pancake breakfast fundraisers are all good ways to bring a community together for a worthy cause. Almost any gathering can be used as a venue to collect donations for disaster relief.
  2. Hold a blood drive or donate blood. Disaster victims often need blood donations. But even if a local drive isn’t able to send your blood to an distant impacted region, your generosity, inspired by that far away disaster, will help someone in need in your own community.
  3. Get trained as a disaster volunteer. In a time of crisis, properly trained disaster volunteers are the only people with the skills and knowledge necessary to help. Natural disasters are a fact of life, and developing a pool of trained individuals ready to respond and help the victims is one of the key ways we have to prepare ourselves in the event of a future emergency.
  4. Volunteer your time or donate to a charity in your local community. In a time of emergency, the poor, sick, elderly, and most vulnerable members of our communities are the ones who suffer the most. By volunteering or donating to a local charity you can reach out and connect with the most vulnerable members of society and make your community and the nation as a whole, stronger and better prepared to face whatever challenges lie ahead.
See the Tips section of our site for more information on how to select a disaster relief charity to support.

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