Right now it feels like there is little time to heal when the world has been bombarded with one disaster and tragedy after another. From earthquakes and hurricanes to the deadliest mass shooting in modern US history, our hearts ache with the feelings of sadness, frustration and hopelessness. But with little time to mourn, many of us chose to act—asking what can we do to help?
There has been an outpouring of support in the wake of the mass shooting in Las Vegas Sunday night, which left 58 people dead and more than 515 injured. Thousands of people across the country waited for hours in line to donate blood. Thanks to the thousands of generous donors, the Red Cross now says it has an adequate blood supply to respond to the Las Vegas tragedy. But since blood donations only have a 42-day shelf life, the American Red Cross is urging people to book appointments to donate blood in the coming weeks and months. Because so many people want to give, it’s important to schedule an appointment to donate blood. You can do that by using the Red Cross Blood Donor App, visiting www.redcrossblood.org, or by calling 1-800-RED CROSS.
You may want to think again if you’re considering emptying out your pantry or clearing out your closet to help those in Puerto Rico. This may actually do more harm than good. According to the Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster’s website, many organizations aren’t able to handle the deluge of material goods in the early stages of a recovery effort. The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) explains, “Unsolicited, unorganized donated goods such as used clothing, miscellaneous household items, and mixed or perishable foodstuffs require helping agencies to redirect valuable resources away from providing services to sort, package, warehouse, transport, and distribute items that may not meet the needs of disaster survivors.”
A number of long-running organizations, including UNICEF, Save the Children and the American Red Cross are taking financial donations to assist in the relief effort. When donating funds, it’s best to go directly to the charity’s website and set up a payment from there. Some of the larger organizations to consider are:
- United for Puerto Rico
- Direct Relief
- Hispanic Federation
- Save the Children
- International Medical Corps
In addition, Global Giving is a crowdfunding site that aims to raise $5 million for Puerto Rico and the Caribbean. So far it has $4.1 million in donations from 32,754 donors.
There’s still plenty of help needed by those impacted by Harvey and Irma. You can find a list of organized efforts devoted to all the recent hurricanes on USAID’s website. There’s also One America Appeal, which is headed up by all the living former U.S. presidents. Money donated to the organization for Harvey will go to the hurricane relief fund in Houston. Money donated for Irma it will go to the Florida Disaster Fund. And for Maria, money will go to United for Puerto Rico and the Fund for the Virgin Islands.
Another way to help is to volunteer. FEMA directs those wishing to donate their time to register here.
And finally, while we are so focused on those who need immediate help, it is important to remember to take some time for your own healing. While you or your loved ones may not have been immediately impacted by the recent tragedies, these horrific events can trigger powerful emotions. The overwhelming stress of grief can create its own kind of suffering. Deepak Chopra gives this advice, “Hold each other. Don’t be afraid to ask for contact. Reach out and tell your loved ones that you do love them. Don’t let it be taken for granted. Feel your fear. Be with it and allow it to be released naturally. Pray. Grieve with others if you can, alone if you must.”
October 2nd – October 8th is Mental Health Awareness Week. For more information log on to: https://www.nami.org/Get-Involved/Awareness-Events/Mental-Illness-Awareness-Week