To say Hurricane Sandy caused some damage would be a huge understatement. The superstorm that hit last week, in a short amount of time, cut power in 18 million homes and caused over $20 million in property damage throughout New York, New Jersey and Rhode Island. Millions have seen the destruction and have asked how they can help those in need. Here are some ways you can help the displaced families of Hurricane Sandy.
Donate Time After hearing about the nurses that transported over 20 NICU babies to safety, many want to jump to action. If you were lucky enough to escape the damage, lend some time to help your neighbors. Several state organizations are informing locals about volunteer opportunities such as collecting clothes, distributing items, and cleaning up debris. New Yorkers and Rhode Islanders can visit NYC Service and Serve Rhode Island, respectively, for opportunities, while New Jersians can contact the state's Emergency Volunteer Service Hotline at 1-800-537-7397.
Donate Items Thousands of people lost their homes and have to start from scratch. Others have their homes but are without heat. Give them a jump start or warmth by donating items. Places of worship, such as churches and synagogues, and warm shelters are typically the go-to charity drop off centers. You can also search your local paper for other locations. As of now, most charities are asking for the following donations: bottled water, non-perishable food items, blankets, toiletries, pillows, personal hygiene items, diapers, bottles, formula, batteries, clothing (specifically winter coats, hats, scarves and gloves) and gift cards.
If you can't find any donation drives in your area, start your own! Start a collection at work or in your neighborhood and bring the items to a nearby drop off station. If you don't live in a hurricane-affected area, you can still help. The Knot reports that a Brooklyn-based group of friends have set up an Amazon.com Wedding Registry, which will allow you to send specific items the area needs to the group who will take them to a local drop-off center. Baby Buggy is another great resource that will inform you how you can help families year round (not just when disaster strikes).
Donate Money If you live too far away for a drop-off or day long clean up, you can send support in the form of money. But before you write a check (never donate cash!), make sure the organization is legitimate and giving the most money to the cause. Our sister site The Nest has some great tips when it comes to donating money without getting duped.
One organization guaranteed to ensure your money is going to the right cause is the Red Cross, and thanks to technology it's easier than ever to donate. You can make a donation on its website or text REDCROSS to 90999 to give $10 to American Red Cross Disaster Relief.
As always, social media sites like Twitter and Facebook are a great source for up-to-the-minute information. Here are some great organizations to follow:
Know of any volunteer opportunities in your area? Let us know!