September 8, 2017 | Bob Myers


After a disaster, we humans have a history of banding together to do everything we can to help.

After the devastation from Harvey - and as we wait for the effects of Irma, it will undoubtedly take time, patience, generosity, love and great effort to recover from this on several different levels. How can we help both the victims and volunteers?

Unfortunately, collecting and sending food, clothing and other household items often does more harm than good," said American Red Cross spokeswoman Greta Gustafson. "Instead, the best way to support disaster victims is with a financial donation."

It's not uncommon for scam artists to emerge after a disaster.  Spam emails or social media posts seeking donations for disaster relief might look believable.  It's always best to do a bit of research before you open your heart and wallet.

You can do that on sites such as CharityNavigator.org - a nonprofit that independently rates over 8,000 charities. They've compiled a list of some of the best organizations to donate to in the wake of Harvey.  Several factors are considered when  giving a charity a score out of 100. These include program expenses  (e.g. how much of the donations go straight to victims) and transparency (e.g. audited financials prepared by an independent accountant).  

Well-known groups taking donations specifically for Harvey (and soon to be Irma) victims include the American Red Cross, the Salvation Army and Catholic Charities.

For suggested donation and volunteer opportunities, visit ​https://www.volunteerflorida.org/​​​

While taxes may not be at the forefront of your mind right now, remember that charitable donations to qualified nonprofit groups are tax-deductible.
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