I have family in the Northeast, and so naturally have been closely following the news related to Superstorm Sandy’s aftermath. My loved ones were all spared the worst of the storm’s wrath, but many others were not nearly so lucky. Every major news station shows pictures of displaced New York and New Jersey residents, huddled in gas lines or bus lines with just about every aspect of their lives disrupted. A large number of those affected by the storm are still without power, as temperatures dip and food is becoming scarce.
There are a number of ways that all of us can reach out to those affected by Sandy, and—at the risk of sounding clichéd—every little bit helps. If you are short on cash to donate to the relief efforts, consider giving your time. There is also a great need for supplies, such as spare blankets, winter clothing, and canned food. Here is an (abridged) list of organizations you can contact if you are interested in helping out, as well as organizations accepting donations, and the latest updated Sandy relief information on Twitter.
American Red Cross
The American Red Cross is urging folks to donate money toward relief efforts, as well as promoting blood donations. As they have done before in similar crisis situations, the Red Cross has made it possible to quickly and easily donate ten dollars to the cause by simply texting “REDCROSS” to 90999. On the website, there is a minimum donation amount of ten dollars. The organization has dispatched some five thousand volunteers to assist those affected by Sandy, and has provided emergency shelter and food to those displaced by the storm. Trained volunteers are also providing mental health services to those in the hardest-hit areas, to help them cope with the ongoing crisis.
New York Cares
New York Cares is “the city’s largest volunteer organization, running volunteer programs for 1,300 nonprofits, city agencies and public schools.” It is both raising money towards Superstorm Sandy relief and recruiting volunteers to help in all manner of ways. Volunteers mobilized by New York Cares were knocking on doors at senior centers in the midst of the devastation, reaching out to the elderly residents and determining what assistance was needed. Coordinator Lizzie Shipley states that contributions “of any size”—of either time or money—are extremely valued, given the magnitude of need in the community. Donors wishing to contribute money to New York Cares on an ongoing basis have the option of giving regularly through payroll deductions.
Habitat for Humanity
Another widely-recognized organization struggling to assess the needs of Superstorm Sandy victims is Habitat For Humanity, which “is currently assessing the impact on affordable housing across the affected areas and will develop an appropriate response as need and available resources become clearer.” You can make a cash donation today to go toward future rebuilding of homes destroyed by the storm. It won’t assist in the triage efforts going on right at the moment, but there is no doubt that Habitat’s assistance is going to be critical in the near future. You can make a donation either online or by phone.
Community Foodbank of New Jersey
The Community Foodbank of New Jersey has undertaken the enormous task of distributing some one hundred thousand pounds of food daily to families displaced by Sandy. In conjunction with New Jersey’s Office of Emergency Management, as well as with state and local nonprofit organizations (including the Salvation Army and the Red Cross), the Community Foodbank has been dispatching ready-to-eat meals to people who might otherwise go hungry… and they have been doing it without electricity. You can help out in a variety of ways with the Community Foodbank. Shelf-stable food donations are welcomed, and a list of most-wanted items is available online. Volunteers are also sorely needed. Cash is needed most, says the organization, so that they can replenish food supplies that run out quickest, rather than being limited to what is on hand.
Humane Society of the United States
We spend so much time being bombarded with images of the sad, cold humans affected by the storm that we don’t necessarily consider the other lives impacted by crises like Sandy. Luckily, the Humane Society of the United States exists to ensure that non-human family members of evacuees are not left to fend for themselves. Many storm shelters do not allow pets, and not all people fleeing the storm were able to bring their furry friends. The Humane Society’s Animal Rescue Team is assembling staff and equipment to help rescue pets in the Mid-Atlantic and Northeast. They will find them safe foster homes until the point that the animals can be reunited with their owners. Both foster families and funds are needed to help out.
Some more volunteer posts with regional links:
- Great round-up by WNYC on Sandy Relief efforts in all affected areas
- FEMA official page for Sandy information
- How to Volunteer, Donate in New York City, Brooklyn, Staten Island and New Jersey
- Some great organizations accepting donations
- Local volunteer spots in the boroughs
And on Twitter: