An estimated 1.2 million people have been affected by Hurricane Irma, according to the Red Cross, and that number could rise to 26 million. If you want to do your part to help, there are a lot of options. However, before you send off a shipment of shoes and toothpaste, remember that the best way to help charities help others is by donating cold hard cash, according to the Center for International Disaster Information. You can visit CharityNavigator.org to check the legitimacy of charitable organizations. The Federal Trade Commission also has a list of tips for choosing a charity.
Here are some ways to help communities in need:
• Volunteer Florida is looking for volunteers to work in the state’s shelters and other disaster relief organizations. You can register and find out more here.
• Florida’s hunger relief organization, Feeding Florida, is working with food banks across the state to feed those in need.
• Americares is accepting donations on its website.
• Crowdfunding site Global Giving is raising money to provide relief to survivors, including food, water and medicine, in the U.S. and the Caribbean. You can contribute here.
• Airbnb is looking for people willing to open their homes and rentals to those evacuating from Hurricane Irma.
— Airbnb Help (@AirbnbHelp) September 9, 2017
• GoFundMe has set up a dedicated page for Irma relief campaigns, filled with pleas from those in need. The site claims it works to verify that all funds go to intended recipients, but it can not always verify specific claims made by individual campaigners.
• Convoy of Hope is sending food and emergency supplies and help to the victims of Hurricane Irma in the U.S. Haiti, and Cuba.
• Save the Children is helping children and families affected by the storms and setting up child play spaces in shelters.
• Apple made it easy for customers to donate to hurricane relief efforts directly through iTunes and the App Store.
— Tim Cook (@tim_cook) September 8, 2017
• National Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster is looking for volunteers to help in their work in Florida, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands. You can register here. Catholic Charities is providing on-the-ground assistance to Hurricane Irma communities.
• When NPR and ProPublica investigated the American Red Cross, they discovered that it had mismanaged a large portion of the relief funds it received in the wake of the Haiti earthquake. However, they are still the go-to group in a disaster. They have opened shelters in Florida and are sending supplies and volunteers to the state. You can donate online or text “IRMA” to 90999 to chip in $10, or get started in volunteering your services by reading this.
• Of course, it’s not just humans who need assistance. Animal welfare organizations like the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, the Best Friends Animal Society, and the South Florida Wildlife Center have all put out calls for donations.