Our hearts and thoughts go out to the people of Oklahoma, especially those in and around Moore, OK. It may be days before the death toll is tallied, and weeks or months before the damage can be adequately assessed. Those of us who have been through natural disasters of this size or greater already know how utterly devastating it can be. After Katrina, seeing the trucks roll in with food and blankets and water was such a relief!
It used to be common for people of the fiber arts communities to rally ’round and begin creating piles of blankets, socks, sweaters, and other needed items for those who have lost house and home.
All of these are fine, of course, but they are only useful if:
- you know a specific family and their specific needs; or
- you have an establish channel for distribution with an agency already on the ground providing needed goods and they have requested specific things.
When I did the Bundle Up New Orleans effort after Katrina, one of the hardest things was finding a way to distribute the many goods that were sent to me for those in need; we finally found a food bank in Treme that agreed to take the many donated hats, scarves, and blankets, but they were a food bank and we later found our donated goods piled in a corner and people were being told to just “go through the piles and take what you want”. Rather disheartening. Many agencies do not want to deal with disorganized and dissimilar donations, nor should they be expected to; they are full time agencies who have already learned what works best and how to do it.
Places like the Red Cross, in particular, already have channels through which to obtain needful emergency goods at a far better cost than if everybody just sends whatever goods they wish. There is also the Humanist Crisis Response effort. These and many other places prefer cash donations that they can pool together resources and get the greatest value for dollars spent.