Put Your Money Where Your Mouth Is

Dear Black Bag Confidential Reader,

Today we’re going to do something a little different…

In lieu of Jason’s weekly selection of five must-read articles from around the web, I want to give you five ways to help your fellow Americans.

Parts of Texas have sustained record amounts of rainfall in the wake of Hurricane Harvey, leaving hundreds of thousands of residents in need — in fact, some of you reading this might be among that number.

While my heart goes out to all affected, I know there is only so much that “sending good vibes” and sharing articles on social media can do. So here are a few tangible ways to help the people of Texas get back on their feet.

It’s going to be a long, hard road to recovery… let’s all pitch in to make it a little easier.

1. Donate Money

One of the most helpful things you can do (and probably the easiest) is simply donate money. The need for supplies is daunting — the various organizations coordinating relief efforts will be able to put the donated funds to the best use.

Donate online via the Red Cross, which gives you the option to use PayPal as well as your credit or debit card. You can also contribute by phone by calling 1-800-RED-CROSS. Or you can visit the Greater Houston Community Foundation website and donate to the Hurricane Harvey Relief Fund.

And don’t forget to keep track of your donations — come tax time, your generosity will pay off with a nice deduction.

2. Donate Blood

The South Texas Blood & Tissue Center has put out an urgent call for blood donors, especially for (but certainly not limited to) individuals with type O blood, which is often used in emergency situations because it can be safely transfused to most patients with other blood types.

Even if you don’t live in Texas, you can still give blood by searching for a blood drive near you through a national organization like the American Red Cross or America’s Blood Centers.

3. Put a Roof Over Someone’s Head

If you live near the affected area, you can host displaced residents and relief workers through Airbnb. By offering space in your home free of charge, Airbnb will waive all booking fees.

What better way to be a good neighbor than by giving someone a warm, dry, safe place to sleep when their entire world has just been turned upside down?

4. Step up and Volunteer

If you have time to give, roll up your sleeves and contribute to cleanup efforts. In addition to collecting monetary donations, the Austin Disaster Relief Network is coordinating community volunteers to staff their call center, transport donated items and provide meals for relief workers.

The Red Cross and the Salvation Army are looking for volunteers willing to help with relief and rebuilding efforts as well as volunteers to assist at temporary shelters set up to house evacuees.

I’m sure you’ve heard the old adage, “Many hands make light work.” The more people who are able and willing to pitch in, the sooner Texas’ Gulf Coast residents can resume their lives.

5. Don’t Forget Man’s Best Friends

Humans aren’t the only living beings displaced by the storm. Animal victims are often overlooked in the aftermath of natural disasters, and local shelters become quickly overwhelmed with the influx of displaced pets.

If you’re an animal lover, you can donate to the SPCA of Texas or the Humane Society of North Texas. You could also sign up to foster an animal and help ease the burden on overcrowded shelters.

Or if you ever considered becoming a pet owner yourself, now is the perfect time to adopt a forever friend.

This is by no means an exhaustive list of the ways in which you can help the victims of Hurricane Harvey. Local businesses, corporations large and small and houses of worship all over the country are busy organizing fundraisers and collecting various items.

Find out what’s going on in your area and help in whatever way you can. Every little bit counts.

Cheers,

Barbara Hauck

Barbara Hauck

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