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Volunteering in Texas
The state of Texas is asking volunteers to not self-deploy, as unexpectedly showing up to any of the communities that have been impacted by the storm and flooding will create an additional burden for first responders. If you want to volunteer, please contact the organizations below:
National Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster
Texas Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster
American Red Cross 1-800-HELP-NOW
The United Way, 1-800-272-4630
Never does our compassion and generosity become more evident than following a major disaster, as evidenced by the outpouring of concern and desire to do something for the victims of Hurricane Harvey in Texas.
Numerous nonprofits, faith- and community-based organizations, private sector partners and governmental agencies are working together to most effectively and efficiently help survivors cope with the impacts of Harvey.
But many are wondering what they can individually do to assist? According to the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), there’s one thing you can do and one thing you should not do. In addition, there’s guidance if you’re considering going to Texas to volunteer.
Cash Donations are Best
Cash donations offer voluntary agencies and faith-based organizations the most flexibility to address urgently developing needs. With cash in hand, these organizations can obtain needed resources nearer to the disaster location. This inflow of cash also pumps money back into the local economy and helps local businesses recover faster.
hurricane harvey donations
Do Not Donate Unsolicited Items
Please do not donate unsolicited goods such as used clothing, miscellaneous household items, medicine or perishable foodstuffs at this time. When used personal items are donated, the helping agencies must redirect their staff away from providing direct services to survivors in order to sort, package, transport, warehouse and distribute items that may not meet the needs of disaster survivors.
Texas and federal officials are also asking volunteers to not self-deploy, as unexpectedly showing up to any of the communities that have been impacted by Hurricane Harvey will create an additional burden for first responders. The National Volunteers Active in Disaster (VOAD) also noted the situation may not be conducive to volunteers entering the impacted zone and individuals may find themselves turned away by law enforcement.
To ensure volunteer safety, as well as the safety of disaster survivors, volunteers should only go into affected areas with a specific volunteer assignment, proper safety gear and valid identification. At this time, potential volunteers are asked to register with a voluntary or charitable organization of their choice, many of which are already in Texas and supporting survivors on the ground.
Our NewsCenter has more information and tips on how you can assist, including the warning signs of charity fraud. The Federal Trade Commission has details on how you can give safely.
You can also learn more from FEMA and follow FEMA’s Hurricane Harvey webpage.
Know Charity Fraud Warning Signs
Do not respond to any unsolicited (spam) incoming emails by clicking on links contained within those messages.
Be skeptical of individuals representing themselves as surviving victims or officials asking for donations via email or social networking sites.
Verify the legitimacy of nonprofit organizations by using online resources that may assist in confirming the group’s existence and its nonprofit status, rather than following a purported link to the site.
Be cautious of emails that claim to show pictures of the disaster areas in attached files because the files may contain viruses. Only open attachments from known senders.
Make contributions directly to known organizations rather than relying on others to make the donation on your behalf to ensure contributions are received and used for intended purposes.
Do not give your personal or financial information to anyone who solicits contributions: providing such information may compromise your identity and make you vulnerable to identity theft.
If you are solicited by a charity, don’t feel rushed or pressured into making an immediate commitment. Ask the caller or solicitor to provide written information about the charity’s programs and finances before you make a contribution.
If you have any questions or concerns about a charity, contact our Office of Consumer Affairs at 703-222-8435 (8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday-Friday), or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Listen to our podcast on charity fraud: