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Tip of the Week: Volunteering and Helping in Disasters

One of the cornerstones of our campus culture is to volunteer and give of ourselves to make a contribution to our community.  Tennessee has deployed its citizens again and there are more relief efforts underway than can be counted.  A fitting tribute to our state that rallied volunteers who risked everything to fight beside another group of Texans in dire straights at the Alamo.

One of the best things you can do to help survivors in any disaster, including  Hurricane Harvey, is to provide assistance that is most helpful to them.  Here is a list of things best practices to consider.

  • Donate money not goods:  Money can be used by relief organizations to directly meet the needs of survivors.  Often goods create an additional burden on already strained resources, don’t match the need, and go to waste.
  • Pick a charity you trust:  Unfortunately some people try to take advantage of the generous outpouring of support.  Do some research to make sure your donation is going to be used how you intended. Generally, national organizations have a long track record and will be operating in the disaster.
  • Do NOT self-deploy:  The desire to load up a van and go to help can be hard to resist.  At worst, you could end up being another victim of the disaster or need rescuing yourself.  More often, you will be unable to reach the people in need and your efforts will be ineffective.
  • Volunteer with an established nonprofit: Many organizations plan and train to safely and effectively deploy volunteers to disaster areas and will be working with local officials to coordinate their activities.  The East Tennessee Chapter of the American Red Cross is taking volunteers right now to help those affected by Hurricane Harvey.

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