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How to help: in the wake of the nation’s natural disasters

September 22, 2017

Midwesterners experience all four seasons from the dreary spring rain, hot and humid summers, short and beautiful fall, to questionable and sometimes subzero winters. However, we must consider ourselves lucky. In the past weeks, no wildfires have ravaged homes and habitats. No hurricanes have misplaced our pets or rained on our parades. But for many people nationwide, it has been an inescapable nightmare. It is now our turn, part of the “Midwestern nice,” persona, to give back, lend a helping hand, and give our fortunes to those less fortunate. Here’s how we can help:

Donate Money

Ample organizations have set up easily accessible donating platforms. With your phone in hand, it is as simple as sending a text message. The American Red Cross accepts donations of $10 towards Hurricane Harvey victims, just by texting “Harvey” to 90999. You are charged on your next phone bill. Facebook promptly displays a donation button once entering the social media platform. Round up the total of purchases at stores; every penny really does help. Call the dozens of not-for-profit companies set up for disaster relief in Montana. You have the power to make an impact and help literally at your fingertips.

Donate Items

Sometimes people are wary of sharing their card information over the phone and through websites. Or maybe, you’re down to your last few dollars. No problem! Donate items that you may have sitting around: clothes, shoes, blankets, pillows, cans from the pantry, and even toiletries from the medicine cabinet. We’re America. There are things we don’t really need that we have, hoarding it “just in case.” This is the perfect time to put those items to good use and send them to those in need. Don’t know where to send it? The Salvation Army is sending goods to those affected daily. Churches and schools have Donation Drop Off sites available for you to drive up and drop off, without getting out of the car. Feeling extra motivated? Start a food or clothing drive! Montana is even accepting donations for hay. We live in the Midwest-we have such resources to send! Partner up with local businesses that are willing to help in the time of need as well.

Donate Blood

Often times we think about material items to donate, but more often than not, we need life-saving donations to help those who have suffered such tragic losses. Area blood banks who typically supply blood to local hospitals have been requesting more donors as there are shortages in the geographical locations affected. Numerous blood drives have popped up across the map in effort to increase the supply of blood. The only way the blood supply increases is if one decides to donate. It takes 15 minutes from beginning to end. Better yet, it’s free! Donate blood and literally save a life. Check with the American Red Cross or Mississippi Valley Regional Blood Center for locations and availability.

Donate Time – Volunteer

French sculptor, Rodin, once said: “Nothing is a waste of time if you use the experience wisely.” Numerous locals have traveled down to Florida and Texas. Along with many policemen, National Guard troops and nurses have been sent out to work in the dilapidated lands. It is everyday civilians who are willing to pack up their bags and help the men, women, and children that are making the biggest impact. Whether it is handing out food and water, to making supply buckets or even cleaning up the millions of pieces of debris, there is a need for volunteers. Not only will you be doing a good deed, but the experience in itself is one that can never be taught inside the classroom walls. Get some friends together and make a difference.

If you would like to donate to those affected by the natural disasters affecting multiple U.S. regions, see below for a variety of options. To make sure your donation is being used to help the most people, check the charity with Charity Navigator, Charity Watch or GuideStar.

Montana Wildfires

Montana DNRC — Forestry Division

406 Family Aid Foundation

Montana Stockgrowers Foundation

United Way of Missoula County

Hurricane Harvey/Irma

Hurricane Harvey Relief Fund

Texas Diaper Bank

Houston Humane Society

UNICEF USA

National Organizations

American Red Cross

United Way

All Hands Volunteers

The Salvation Army

Tessa Jones
Features Editor

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