The draft of this post has changed direction several times since I started writing it last Friday. It started out as a casual post that morphed into a rant and then changed focus again as I tried to make it more positive.
Last week I was struggling with the notion that my life had gotten back to “normal” after not really being disrupted in a major way by Superstorm Sandy. One of our huge pine trees fell toward the house and, had it been a few feet taller, then it probably would have hit the roof and crashed into our child’s bedroom. While that thought makes me shudder, I’m extremely grateful for what did NOT happen. We didn’t experience much damage and we didn’t lose power, except for one hour on Wednesday when the utility company was working in our area.
Yes, we went a bit stir-crazy at home with our kindergartner out of school all week, and with getting all ready for Halloween only to have the town cancel trick-or-treating. But that’s the extent of our storm experience, and as I listened to people either complain excessively about their minor inconveniences or act as if nothing happened (“TGIF! What are we doing for fun this weekend?”), I felt like we all could use a reminder of what many other people actually went through.
Some lost everything. A mother in New York had her two-year-old and four-year-old sons literally ripped out of her arms by a wave and carried away from her. They’re gone now. It’s something I can’t even fathom, but I mention it to keep reminding myself of how fortunate we are.
I’m not implying that life should come to a standstill or that people don’t have a right to their fun weekend plans. But after hearing a woman from my hometown crying on the radio about losing all of her belongings and precious memories, I started wondering how I could help.
There are many ways to help and you can do a quick online search for updated information. In the meantime,
Here are five basic ways to help people affected by Hurricane Sandy.
1) Give money.
From the American Red Cross:
“Those who want to help can make a donation to support American Red Cross Disaster Relief by visiting http://www.redcross.org, calling 1-800-RED CROSS (1-800-733-2767) or texting the word REDCROSS to 90999 to make a $10 donation.”
If you’re looking for something other than the Red Cross, there are many other local organizations, as well. If you’re near an area affected by Sandy, see below for links to more sites with donation information.
2) Give stuff.
Many food banks are still in need of nonperishable items. Some people have lost everything; they survived the storm with only the roof over their heads and the clothes on their backs. If you have unwanted clothing and household items that you were planning to get rid of anyway, now is a great time to donate them to your local Goodwill or Salvation Army store, or to find an agency that will deliver them directly to Sandy victims.
3) Give time.
The radio personality that I was listening to told the crying woman on the phone that he’d come to her home on Saturday to help her clean up. There was such a difference in the storm’s impact from one town to the next that many of us were barely affected while people just miles away lost their homes. I realize that some of you, our readers, don’t live anywhere near an area that experienced the storm. However, there are ways to volunteer your time for just about any cause that you care about. Idealist.org is just one site that has a lot of ideas and opportunities.
4) Give blood.
This one is close to my heart. I had major surgery several years ago and banked some of my own blood in advance. It was not nearly enough, though, and I required a large transfusion. Needless to say, I’m grateful to the unknown person(s) who donated the blood that potentially saved my life. The storm forced the cancellation of many scheduled blood drives. I encourage everyone who is able to give blood to please do so. See the Red Cross blood donation site for guidelines and locations of a blood drive near you.
5) Give lip service.
Consider using all of the social media outlets at your disposal: your website or blog, Google Plus, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest, even a mass email to your friends. They can’t really get mad if all you’re saying is “Hey, this is what’s going on and maybe you’re in a position to help. If so, here’s how.”
Information is being updated online all the time. But here are just a couple more sites I found.
The last one includes options for donating money to help Sandy storm victims in Haiti and Cuba.