Fair warning: this post will be a little off topic, addressing a concern for unplanned events rather than planning an event.
For those not in my area, you might not be aware that Kansas City and the surrounding area is chock full of good Samaritans. As tornadoes wreaked havoc on two nearby cities – Reading, KS and Joplin, MO – Kansas Citians sprung into action. Calls-to-action were made via the media, Facebook, Twitter, emails, blog sites, and in person. The persuasive power of the internet and social media was incredible and the response immediate. Everyone was asking for donations and we gave until it hurt. But, it wasn’t the givers that were wounded by the donations, it was the recipients.
I recently saw pictures on Facebook of well-intentioned donations – water, diapers, hygienic goods, canned food and clothing – that will go UNUSED by the people of Joplin. These were unsolicited donations from one community to another. Don’t get me wrong, it’s GREAT that we responded in such a way, showing that we support our neighbors in a time of crisis. Unfortunately, volunteers in that area had to be pulled off other tasks and had to begin sorting and cataloging all those items, some of which were expired or unable to be used. Many of these items weren’t even needed as organizations such as The American Red Cross, FEMA, Convoy of Hope, and The Salvation Army are designed to provide many of these disposable resources right away. Survivors don’t need water and diapers to get back on their feet – they need help with cleanup and rebuilding and they need to begin rebuilding commerce in their area.
So – what CAN you do to show that you support the survivors and help them return to their lives as soon a possible?
- GIVE MONEY!
Consider what you would spend on a few cases of water and donate that amount. Then tell all your friends, families and followers to do the same. Every little bit helps!
- GIVE BLOOD!
In times of major crises, the Red Cross will usually end up having an emergency blood drive. So spread the word and get your office and friends to join you in providing a life-saving donation.
- GIVE SOLICITED GOODS!
Check with official organizations to see if there are specific items that need to be donated. Then, take those specific items immediately to the organization (not the area in need). Sometimes those needs change quickly and waiting too long to get others involved might make your donations unneeded.
- VOLUNTEER YOUR TIME!
If you live close enough to the area in need, find out what you can do. Sites like VolunteerMatch will help you find ways to volunteer even when there’s not a crisis.
- LEND A PROFESSIONAL HAND!
If you have a special skill set, like construction, emergency or medical service, rescue experience (with or without dogs) or clergy, find out if they could use your services.
As a Christian woman, sometimes the only thing I can personally give is the power of prayer and I believe that’s the strongest thing any of us can give. If you aren’t a praying person, at least send warm thoughts, supportive updates and tweets, and lots of love to the survivors.
In the end, we all just want to help our fellow-man. Please just make sure you’re helping in the right way and that we’re spreading the right message. Social media for social good – spread the word! 🙂