Every day after the show, Katie answers questions with the audience and in yesterday’s Q&A (after our Day of Giving episode featuring Sandy victims and survivors — in our first full capacity audience since the storm, we should mention!) a discussion started up about what not to do when donating and volunteering between our host and an audience member that we thought would be helpful to share with you! We called together the pros from NYC’s largest volunteer organization New York Cares, Red Cross, Catholic Charities and The Salvation Army to help us out with some tips for what to do and what not to do when donating and volunteering.
Do: Brag a little have you had EMS training or First Aid Certification? Our friends at Catholic Charities suggest speaking up and telling the volunteer leaders if you have a specific skill set – this could be very helpful!
Don’t: be impatient
New York Cares tells volunteers to be willing to wait until they are needed. In the immediate aftermath of a disaster, trained first responders are most needed. Volunteers could divert resources and attention away from those who need it.
Do: Sign up for training before disaster strikes
Sign up for training before disaster strikes. For many volunteer organizations, like the Salvation Army, disaster service training is the first stop for volunteering in a disaster zone. So be trained and ready to go!
Do: Give blood
Hurricane Sandy impacts the supply of blood and blood platelets, so schedule a donation time for yourself or encourage your school or business to hold a drive. You can get more information about giving blood on redcrossblood.org!
Don’t: Donate used goods
Make sure you have checked with your charity of choice to determine whether or not they need new items. During a disaster like Sandy, some charities can only make use of items that are new, unused, or nearly new.
Do: Consider selling your clothing & other items!
If you’re strapped for cash and would rather donate what you already have, Gary Bagley of New York Cares suggests selling these items and donating the money you get from that. This allows the charity of your choice to spend the money so that it reaches the people or animals that are most in need.
Do: Start locally
To find the right charity and to keep transportation costs low (and impact of donation high), look first in your local community to find a charity that supports your non-cash contribution.
Do: Make donating a regular thing
In times of disaster, the Salvation Army can help people immediately with what they already have pre-sorted on their shelves, so make sure to check in with your local organizations to see how you can always keep their shelves stocked with goods that could save someone’s life in an emergency.
Don’t: Donate without double checking
Contact your local food bank or shelter before sending goods over. Many people don’t realize how important things like cleaning supplies, feminine products, diapers, baby food (to name a few!) are and an agency may not have the capacity to store unneeded donations.
A big DO across all charities and organizations helping in disaster relief: money is often the best donation you can make. Here are some simple ways to donate to the places that helped write this article:
The Salvation Army: You can text the word “STORM” to 80888 to make a $10 donation through your mobile phone; to confirm your gift, respond with the word “Yes.”
Red Cross: Visit redcross.org, call 1-800-RED CROSS (1-800-733-2767) or text the word REDCROSS to 90999 to make a $10 donation.
Catholic Charities: Donate to their Sandy Relief Fund to meet the short and long term needs of those affected by visiting www.catholiccharitiesny.org/donate and indicate “Sandy Relief Fund” in the comments or text “SANDY” to 85944 to make a one-time $10 donation. And register to volunteer here!