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Helping Others

Hurricane Harvey created a path of destruction in Texas after making landfall this past Friday night. The slow-moving system left behind battered communities and extensive flooding in Houston and other parts of Texas. So far, it’s been reported that some 6.8 million people have been affected by the hurricane. Louisiana is currently feeling the effects of Harvey, and they are bracing for a weakened but potent Harvey to move through their state soon.

Watching the news about Hurricane Harvey, I remembered the rescue and relief efforts made for Hurricane Katrina, back in 2005. The things I remember most are the faces of the people who lost so much. The volunteers on the team that went over to help out were stationed near a Red Cross shelter that had been hastily set up and not adequately prepared for the people who streamed in. We helped with food and towels until the shelter’s supply shipments arrived. I remember thinking in one instance that these people looked like refugees – and then in the next moment realizing that they were refugees. They couldn’t go home, their lives had been shattered, they were hungry, and they needed help. And because we were in the area affected by the hurricane, we were able to give immediate assistance, mainly by cooking and serving them something to eat. Needless to say, this was a most meaningful experience for me. Seeing those people and hearing their stories will be with me forever. And the smiles that I got when I brought them a meal was enriching to my soul.

But what can I do TODAY from Gainesville, Florida to be of help to those affected by Hurricane Harvey?

Here’s some suggestions as to how ALL of us can help RIGHT NOW.

The Red Cross said they depend on financial donations to help provide immediate relief. They have already set up a way to donate to victims with a simple text. Text the word HARVEY to 90999 to make a $10 donation. You can also visit or call 1- 800-RED CROSS.

The United Way has also announced a way to text a donation: Text UWFLOOD to 41444 to donate to the United Way Flood Relief Fund

Donations to support The Salvation Army's Hurricane Harvey relief efforts can be made at or by calling 1-800-SAL-ARMY.

Send cash – Not items until they are requested.

According to the USAID website, "Unlike material donations, cash involves no transportation costs, shipping delays, or customs fees. It also enables relief organizations to spend more time providing aid by spending less time managing goods."

Also, sending money into the affected areas means that the money you send will be spent locally. This is important as the next injury to the area will be an economic one.

Even so, there are a few organizations who have asked for material donations, one being the Texas Diaper Bank in San Antonio who is in need of diapers and wipes, which can be dropped off in person or mailed to 5415 Bandera Road, Suite 504, San Antonio, TX, 78238.

Donate Through Reputable Organizations I am a big believer in Rotary and what they do to help others throughout the world. Rotary clubs in District 5930 (Texas, USA) are collecting emergency relief funds to help flood victims of Hurricane Harvey. Rotary District 5930 has partnered with the nonprofit McAllen North Rotary Fund to set up an emergency relief fund.

To help, please send checks and gift cards to:

Rotary District 5930 McAllen North Rotary Fund 501 W. Nolana Ave. McAllen, Texas, 78504 Federal Tax ID# 27-3855943

If you have questions, contact

Check the Charity Before you donate to a charity, make sure you know where your aid is going. The Center for International Disaster Information recommends checking with a charity monitoring organization like GiveWell, Charity Navigator, Charity Watch, or the Better Business Bureau before donating.

Make sure your donation is secure by going through an organization's official website or sending a check in the mail. Charity Navigator says you should never donate over the phone, email or unknown social media pages, as these are easier for scammers to target.

Fred Rogers said, “When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say, “Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.”

Today, I remember my own mother’s words: “Helping others does the heart and soul good, especially when they are in a time of need.” It is comforting to know there are many helpers – so many caring people in this world, ready and willing to help others.

Indeed, everyone can be a helper; when we do, it does the heart GOOD!

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