As I’m sure many of you have too, we’ve been watching the footage of Hurricane (now Tropical Storm) Harvey at work. And I’ve been watching at home. And checking various media and social media outlets when I’m not in either of those places. I’ve been trying to stay abreast of what’s been happening. More specifically, I’ve been watching the devastation that Harvey has left behind.
I’m not going to talk about Harvey itself in this post. If you are reading this, I’m sure you are aware of what’s been going on. It has completely dominated the news cycle since Friday. Even the fact that North Korea fired a missile over Japan, an issue that would normally be a huge topic of conversation between military members, barely seemed newsworthy in comparison.
I, along with millions of people, feel compelled to help. At the same time, I don’t want my contribution to be more of a hassle than a gift. I’ve been looking into various ways to help since Sunday, but didn’t really have a plan until today (Tuesday). Now I know my way forward.
Another personal finance blogger, Bobby Hoyt at Millennial Money Man put out a call on Twitter for the personal finance blogging community to promote donations to the affected communities.
Not sure on logistics, but it would be awesome if the PF blogging community could promote donations to Houston. It’s unreal down here.
— Bobby Hoyt (@GenYMoneyMan) August 29, 2017
Man, I’m in.
You know what’s an amazing and unexpected benefit of being a blogger? I get to talk about whatever I want to talk about. And when a storm has been occupying my mind for days, I can use this blog as an outlet. So let’s talk about ways to help during an emergency. Because I want to, and because frankly, what the hell good is money and stuff if not to do something worthwhile with it?
Below I have listed a variety of resources that you can check out if you are looking to help. I know, I know, you’ve seen all of this already. Well, I’ve tried to find some of the less common solutions. In fact, I’m not going to bother listing the big names. I’ll post a link to some media that has already done that work, then I’ll give some other options you may not be aware of.
I’ll be updating this post as I come across more resources and ways to help! Updates in black are made on August 30th, red on August 31st. More to follow.
As always, proceed with caution. If you are not familiar with a charity listed here or in one of the links, check them out on Charity Navigator. They also have a Hurricane Harvey-specific page, but not every charity providing support to Harvey victims is listed there so you might need to check the full website.
Mention of a charity or business on this page does not constitute endorsement. I’m providing options.
Below that list, you can read about my plans to help out. If you are in the Washington DC metro area, please make sure you read that section!
And if you just want to see some goddamn amazing news about the military’s role in the rescue and disaster relief operations, go to the bottom of the post. I’m also so proud of all the other organizations helping out, but this is Military Dollar and I get to shout out to my brothers- and sisters-in-arms if I want to.
Ways You Can Help
These links provide some of the common suggestions for helping out.
The New York Times: Where to Donate to Harvey Victims (and How to Avoid Scams)
Consumer Reports: The Best Ways To Help Victims of Hurricane Harvey
A lot of the information being spread right now about ways to help is related to making cash donations. That is, of course, always needed at times like this. But if that’s not an option for you at the moment, or if you are interested in helping another way, you aren’t out of options. I know, there are lots of articles floating around right now that say “don’t donate clothing” (like this one). I hear ya, but I also hear what’s being said on the news and passed in the media. My advice? Check with the people in need. Some organizations are asking for donations of goods.
- Call up your local food bank or Red Cross/Salvation Army/Catholic Charities/etc to see if they are taking in-kind donations to help out with Harvey. Heck, even if they aren’t, any resources you can provide them should mean they don’t need help from the national branch or larger organizations helping out in Texas and Louisiana. That in itself is useful.
- Pet shelters across the country are looking for help! I’m seeing lots of calls for blankets, food, toys, etc. And if you can possibly foster or adopt, now is the time. Animals are being sent to shelters at the far ends of the country. If you can’t donate items or money or take in a pet on a temporary or permanent basis, maybe you can volunteer at the shelter to walk and play with them?
- Amazon has set up a page where you can buy items needed by the Red Cross immediately: Amazon Red Cross Wish List for Hurricane Harvey
- If you want to send clothing or household goods, check with the organization before sending it. I found out that Pasadena, TX shelters were accepting donations of a wide variety of goods as of early this afternoon. By the time I got home from work, they were past capacity (because people are awesome).
- Don’t forget Louisiana! Texas is getting the majority of the attention, obviously, which means they will get the majority of the aid. But Louisiana is getting hit too, with over a foot of rain in some places. If you are looking for a shelter that needs aid, try looking there.
- Milblogging.com (there are enough of us that we have a whole conference) put out this list of ways military influencers can help. The list includes ways you can help that aren’t being promoted by larger media outlets. Check out the badass shirts Grunt Style put out…and ooh rah Grunt Style for the amazing donation!
- Do you live near Boston, MA? The Boston mayor is organizing a drive for donations to be delivered to Houston. It sounds like it’s being coordinated with the mayor of Houston. That should alleviate concerns over whether you are donating stuff that isn’t needed.
- Speaking of the mayor of Houston, he’s asking for donations of food, clothing, diapers, medical supplies, volunteers, etc. I’m still trying to figure out exactly where this should go (see below) but this is something I’m planning to help with.
- And this isn’t really a way for you to help, but I just love this story about what Budweiser has done.
I’ve received word of a bunch of other efforts in the 14 hours since I first published this post! Now, I haven’t been able to authenticate most of these, so please do your due diligence. But big thanks to M who sent most of these recommendations. M is in Humble, TX, just north of Houston. M is safe for now, but in my thoughts.
And again, make sure the organization is still in need before sending anything. Half of the recommendations from M were already overcome by events (no longer accepting donations) by the time I started typing this!
- Blood donations are top of the list for needs after any disaster, and this one is no different. Type O is the biggest need right now, but anything helps. You can find out more, including where to donate, at the Red Cross website. Or go to Christine’s page to find services other than the Red Cross, since they aren’t able to be everywhere! Thanks Christine!
- A bunch of companies are donating the profits of clothing and other items to relief efforts.
- Mason Chix, a MilSpouse owned company, is putting out these shirts. 100% of the proceeds is going to recovery efforts in Houston and Rockport.
- Jose Pedroza is doing basically the same thing with a different shirt here. Now, I have no idea who this guy is and he isn’t set up as a company, so proceed with caution. That being said – I love the “US” in his HoUSton shirt!
- James Avery Artisan Jewelry is selling a Texas charm, with the proceeds also going to relief efforts.
- If you’re nearby, you can donate at these local organizations:
- The St. Anthony of Padua Catholic Church in The Woodlands is accepting various donations each day until September 5th. Check out their website for up-to-date information.
- Wheeler Avenue Baptist Church is also accepting donations.
- Jim Mcingvale, who you might have seen featured on TV, has opened his furniture stores as temporary shelters (good man). The stores are currently only accepting donations of cleaning supplies, but you can check out his Facebook page for up-to-date info.
- If you’re in San Antonio, Livingway Church is teaming up with churches in affected areas. Their Facebook page also has updates of what donations they are currently accepting.
- If you are near Chatsworth, CA, Operation Gratitude is accepting donations until September 7th. They also need volunteers!
What I’m Doing
I’m in the initial planning stages of organizing a clothing and household goods drive to be sent to Texas. I still need to work out the logistics, like how I’m going to get the stuff there and who I should send it to, but I’ve already had about a dozen people tell me they are willing to help out. That’s awesome.
If you are in the Washington DC metropolitan area and interested in joining the effort, reach out to me. You can leave a comment below, email me, Tweet me, go to my Facebook page – whatever! When/if the plan comes together, I’ll be sending out updates via Facebook. Ideally I’ll find a local drive sponsored by people who are better at this than me and I can direct everybody there. If not, I’m happy to pay for the shipping.
I’ll also be visiting my extremely conveniently located American Red Cross blood donation center to see if I can donate. I walk by it on a regular basis so this is an easy way for me to help. If donating blood doesn’t completely freak you out, consider doing this. There’s no way to know whether you will be helping a Harvey victim, but you’ll be helping somebody and that’s pretty great.
I have a veterinarian appointment for my dog in a week. By then, evacuated animals should have arrived in my area. I’ll be asking if they know of any local shelters that need help. If I can foster a dog (pending apartment building approval), I will. If not, I plan to volunteer on the weekends.
Finally, as a person who is blessed with a good salary and not a lot of wants or needs, I have room in my budget for charitable giving. I donate the majority of my annual contributions through the Combined Federal Campaign, but I also have a monthly amount set aside for pop-up donations. I’ll be using that money to send help immediately. I’m sending my initial cash donation to the United Way of Greater Houston. From there, I’m looking at other possible organizations.
UPDATE: A blogger friend, Guy on FIRE, made an incredible pledge today. He is donating up to $1000 per day for the next five days (!!!) to Harvey relief efforts. And he’s doing it by matching blogger and reader donations. Plus his company matches his donations, so the money is multiplying! You can find out more here. I’ve pledged to support him by ensuring he meets his goal every day. Please check out his post for more info!
- Miss Mazuma, another financial independence blogger, donated $500 to the Houston Food Bank in exchange for bloggers who donated blood.
- Discover is matching donations from cardmembers who donate to the American Red Cross using their Cashback Bonus or their credit card. Since I tend to forget I even have Cashback sitting in there, mine has grown to a decent amount without me noticing. Add in matching contributions, and it’s kind of like I just turned $0 into $547.68 instantly. You can’t tell, but I’m doing a little happy dance as I write this.
- My Cashback: $136.92
- Discover’s matching donation: $136.92
- Guy on FIRE’s matching donation: $136.92
- Guy on FIRE’s company’s matching donation: $136.92
- TOTAL DONATION: $547.68!!
(I’m also donating to other organizations, but I thought this was a good way to show you how to take advantage of matching donations!)
Let’s End On A Positive Note
Let’s face it, while I love writing and thinking and talking about personal finance, my true passion is the military. No matter your feelings on some of the things the military is sent to do around the world (and I know many Americans don’t support some of those things) I assure you my military brothers and sisters are some of the best human beings alive. They are also doing some amazing things to help out in Texas and Louisiana. I know a couple of people who are deployed there now, working search and rescue missions. I know others who are anxiously awaiting their orders because one of the worst things for a military member is to see a problem and not be able to do something about it!
So let’s leave this post with a few details about how the military is helping out. You can find out more about the military’s Harvey disaster relief efforts on the Department of Defense website. God bless America and our military.
UPDATE: Military.com put out an article titled Here’s How Harvey Is Impacting Military, Veteran Benefits. Check it out if you might be/are affected. And ArmyWife101 put out this one for any USAA members affected by the flood.
UPDATE: One of my college friends who is conducting rescue missions with the Air National Guard posted a safe and happy picture of himself today!!
— National Guard (@NationalGuard) August 30, 2017
— National Guard (@NationalGuard) August 29, 2017
— KING 5 News (@KING5Seattle) August 28, 2017
— National Guard (@USNationalGuard) August 28, 2017
— National Guard (@USNationalGuard) August 27, 2017
— USCG Heartland (@USCGHeartland) August 30, 2017
— USCG Heartland (@USCGHeartland) August 29, 2017
— U.S. Coast Guard (@uscoastguard) August 29, 2017
— Gen. Dave Goldfein (@GenDaveGoldfein) August 29, 2017