In the past few weeks, the news cycle has been dominated by natural disaster after disaster. First, we heard about the hurricanes in Texas and the Caribbean. Not long after, wildfires devastated California. As someone whose family had to evacuate due to fires in Orange County, I am well aware of the effects these disasters can have on families. In college, we sometimes feel helpless. However, there is so much we can do to help families in need. Here are five ways you can help with disaster relief.
1. Donate Money
Many people feel averted to donating money to those in need. It often feels shallow or impersonal. However, money is the most important thing you can give to a person suffering from a natural disaster. Even small donations can help with rebuilding necessary infrastructure, providing fresh produce, bringing clean water and transporting volunteers to these areas. If you plan to donate money, focus on donating to local shelters, food banks and other charities rather than larger organizations such as the Red Cross. These types of donations tend to have a greater and more direct impact. Some examples include Catholic charities in Houston, the Second Harvest Food Bank of Central Florida, the Florida Disaster Fund and the Napa Valley Community Foundation. Hamilton creator, Lin-Manuel Miranda, is also currently raising money for the victims in Puerto Rico.
2. Spread the Word
Donating money or time is a wonderful way to help people, and these actions are necessary. However, in order for disaster relief efforts to make a significant impact on a community, more people need to donate. Spread the word about helping with disaster relief whether it is just through word of mouth or by posting online. Every donation helps.
3. Contact Your Representatives
Sometimes, it may not feel like our government is putting enough effort into disaster relief, especially when it comes to U.S. territories like Puerto Rico. Rather than watching the federal government sit by as Puerto Rico and other devastated areas struggle for relief, contact your local representatives and senators. Tell them that you want the United States to make a difference in these communities. This is an important way to get our country involved in relief.
4. Help Rebuild Your Community
If you live near an area that has been affected by wildfires or a hurricane, help rebuild your community as much as possible. If someone you know has lost their home, offer to let them stay with you. Donate to charities in your area. Volunteer to help rebuild or redecorate areas that have been lightly damaged. It is important for a community to feel secure and unified.
5. Work Towards Prevention
These disasters may seem rare, but with climate change, they are becoming even more frequent. Do what you can to prevent these disasters. Lower your carbon footprint as much as possible by eating less meat and using less plastic. Be careful when using fire in dry forested areas. Work to make sure that local shelters are prepared and check that your house is up to your state’s safety standards. Learn what to do in case of an emergency and always have backup supplies. If we can prevent these disasters from becoming so devastating in the future, we can save lives and protect our communities.
We just finished an intense period of natural disasters, but that doesn't mean that we should feel secure. With global warming on the rise, climate patterns will continue to change and we should stay prepared. We should never feel like it can't happen to us, and that should be even more of a motivator to help others during a time of need. Disaster relief is important and as college students, we must understand the changing world around us and how to help others as much as possible.
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