Tornadoes, hurricanes, tsunamis, earthquakes and even nuclear meltdowns are just some of the disasters that have taken place in recent years. Media coverage of the events, at times incessant, can lead to a swelling sense of sympathy for the victims that make a person wonder, “What can I do to help?” Disaster journalism can fill our television and computer screens with horrific, heartbreaking and desperate images that tug at our heartstrings and motivate us to action, but few people know what they can do to actually help. Here are a few of the biggest ways for the average person to make a huge impact and a meaningful difference in a disaster:
American Red Cross Donations
The American Red Cross is one of the largest international relief services in the world and for over 100 years has been among the first responders to disasters around the globe. A monetary donation to this organization allows them to buy needed supplies in a much more efficient and cheaper way that any individual can hope to match. They also maintain pre-positioned relief supplies around the globe to rapidly respond to wherever calamity presents itself. Everyday people can hold bake sales, garage sales or other fundraising activities and donate the proceeds to the Red Cross. Every little bit helps and with the ability to contribute to an individual crisis, groups can mobilize around a specific event. Visit the home page of the American Red Cross for more details about this organization and information on how to donate.
Patronize Businesses That Contribute
Individuals are often not the only ones moved to action in a crisis. Many businesses pledge money, supplies or volunteers when disaster strikes. Businesses are able to leverage existing infrastructure, supply chains and the power of buying in bulk to be an effective force in disaster relief. Simply shopping at these businesses helps to support their efforts through various means. Some businesses automatically donate some percentage of a sale to relief efforts, while others will match a dollar amount or allow a direct contribution by the customer. Whatever their methods, a business that has a high level of community responsibility should be supported.
No, I’m not suggesting you hop the next plane to the Philippines, China or wherever the next disaster strikes (though many brave, well-trained and professional people do just that as part of an overall relief strategy), but there is plenty for the well-intentioned, motivated and caring average citizen to do. Packing relief supplies in your local area that is intended for the impacted area, donating blood that may save an injured victim, or simply motivating or organizing a group through advocacy efforts are all ways for an individual to have a global impact by acting locally.