On Oct. 29 of this year, Hurricane Sandy hit the east coast of the U.S., leaving millions of people and their pets displaced or without electricity. One positive thing that emerged from the hurricane was that it reminded us of how human we all are and that good people still manage to shine through in the most unlikely places.
Those of us who live in other cities, states or even countries who weren’t impacted by the hurricane were left with a feeling of helplessness, not really sure what we could do to help. Below are a few of the most well-known organizations that are here to help with disaster relief, as well as a few less well-known organizations that are providing assistance, and can use donations and volunteers:
American Red Cross
The American Red Cross was founded in Washington, D.C on May 21, 1881 by Clara Barton and a circle of her acquaintances. Today the humanitarian organization is dedicated to helping people in need throughout the United States and the world through its various networks.
Although in recent years the organization has been plagued by controversy, the American Red Cross was one of the first to arrive on the scene, and as of Nov. 9, according to CNN Money had set up 472 shelters in more than 10 states, provided 66,500 overnight accommodations to storm victims, and delivered more than 3.5 million meals and snacks, and provided more than 176,900 relief items. For more information you can check out there website here.
The Salvation Army
In New York City, The Salvation Army led the city’s Food Access Plan, which provided meals, hydration and emotional support to thousands of people in need by bringing together resources from several members of Volunteer Organizations Active in Disasters (VOAD), which included the American Red Cross, as well as the City Council, the NYPD and the National Guard, along with dozens of volunteers from across New York City. They provided more than 700,000 meals and drinks to residents impacted by the hurricane in both New York and New Jersey. For more information please click here.
Habitat for Humanity
Founded in 1976 by Millard Fuller and his wife, Linda, Habitat for Humanity is a nonprofit, ecumenical Christian housing ministry that has helped over 500,000 families of all races, religions and nationalities. With the help of volunteers, Habitat for Humanity has built or preserved homes through advocating for fair and just housing policies. They have also provided training and access to resources to help families improve their shelter conditions. They have served 2.5 million people worldwide. Most recently, Habitat for Humanity International launched a multi-phase response to help communities devastated by Hurricane Sandy. The effort includes a range of services that will address both the short-term and long-term need for safe and decent housing. For information please click here.
Food Bank for New York City
This organization was founded in 1983 to address the growing needs of people who need emergency food assistance in New York City. It is the city’s major hunger relief organization, and one of the country’s largest food banks. They provide assistance to 1.5 million people in all five boroughs. The need for their services has drastically increased with the hurricane, since natural disasters have a disproportionate effect on the most vulnerable. The Food Bank is accepting monetary donations, and can use the help of volunteers for a number of activities, including serving and delivering meals, as well as helping with neighborhood clean-up projects. For more information please click here.
Carl V. Bini Memorial Fund/Staten Island Strong Carl Bini was an FDNY firefighter killed on 9/11. The memorial fund was started as a way to honor him by helping those in need within his own borough of Staten Island (home to many first responders)and to other areas as well. Often considered “the forgotten borough,” many Staten Island residents indeed felt forgotten in the initial aftermath of Hurricane Sandy, when help seemed slow to arrive.
The Carl V. Bini Memorial Fund has funded a grassroots organization called Staten Island Strong to help clean up and rebuild homes destroyed by Hurricane Sandy. Donations can be made here and volunteer opportunities are listed at the Staten Island Strong Facebook page.
FEED NYC Relief Fund
The FEED Foundation, which raises money to feed hungry people around the world, has added two new products to their line of clothing and accessories specifically to benefit people affected by Hurricane Sandy. They now have a hoodie as well as one of their classic bags, both of which say FEED NYC, and have a silhouette of the New York City skyline. A purchase of a hoodie (at $40) or bag (at $35) will provide 25 meals to New Yorkers. They can be ordered at here. More information about FEED is also available on our site by clicking here
You can also make a world of difference in someone’s life by just donating your time- whether it is helping out at a food kitchen or shelter, or helping clear the rubble from a home that was damaged or didn’t survive the storm. Sometimes such acts as offering a neighbor a warm place to stay or just donating food or clothing to people who might be too proud to accept help shows your support and they are not alone. You can also contact local agencies such as New York Cares and the ASPCA or the Humane Society to help with displaced animals.
A number of retailers and companies are soliciting donations and assistance from their customers and anyone else who can help. For example, online retailer Casa.com, along with its partners, Soap.com, Wag.com, and Diapers.com, has set up an Essentials Center from which they are donating products to help people impacted by Hurricane Sandy. Online donations can be made at the Essentials Donation Center site. Donors can choose whether they want their money to be used to buy household, baby, and/or pet hurricane relief essentials. So far, over 100,000 items have been delivered to New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut.
If you choose to donate money, please take the time to research the organization you are donating to in order to ensure your hard-earned money is going to a reputable charity. Twitter pages of government officials for the states most impacted can be a good resource for legitimate donation and volunteer opportunities. These include New Jersey Governor Chris Christie (@GovChristie), Newark, NJ Mayor Cory Booker, (@CoryBooker), New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg (@MikeBloomberg), New York Governor Andrew Cuomo (@NYGovCuomo), and Connecticut Governor Dann Malloy (@GovMalloyOffice).
Courtesy Images: American Red Cross,The Salvation Army,Habitat for Humanity,Food Bank for New York City,Food Bank for New York City and FEED NYC Relief Fund.