questionswhat's the best way to help disaster victims?

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There have been some legitimate criticisms of how the Red Cross handles their donations, but the Red Cross would the obvious answer if you're looking for charities to donate to. I was in Tuscaloosa when the tornado came through in 2011, and some of the bigger disaster relief groups I saw collecting supplies, coordinating volunteers, & repairing homes were Convoy of Hope (http://convoyofhope.org) and Samaritan's Purse (http://www.samaritanspurse.org). Those are both religiously affiliated, but I've seen firsthand that they do good work, so I would recommend donating to them. I don't know of any local groups in OK since I'm not from the area.

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From my local paper:

The Salvation Army (also a religious organization) has also jumped into action. It's in multiple locations throughout cities in Oklahoma providing food, hydration and emotional support to first responders and storm survivors. You can contribute to the Salvation Army by:

* calling 1-800-SAL-ARMY (1-800-725-2769)
* visiting their website https://donate.salvationarmyusa.org/uss/eds/aok
* texting "STORM" to 80888 to make an automatic $10 donation
* or by mail:

The Salvation Army
PO Box 12600
Oklahoma City, OK 73157

The Red Cross and the Salvation Army are not accepting donations of food, clothing, or other goods at this time. Financial support will enable them to be as flexible as necessary for the immediate emergency needs.

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@magic cave: And the Salvation Army normally has local branches that are still there helping after the Red Cross has moved on to the next disaster.

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Local or national? If you are local (that would be me, and thankfully my house and myself came through fine), there are lots of ways to help. Even if you think you would be no good at rebuilding fences or hauling debris, go buy some bottled water and snack cakes and hand them out. Trust me, it will be greatly appreciated.

National? Well, unless you join a car group and make a trip, money is pretty much the only choice. Yes, Red Cross has their detractors (and I consider myself one), so if you don't agree with them, look up local TV stations, they generally have good info. A couple of ours are really on the ball. Might have to copy and paste these links though.

And...thank you for asking.

http://kfor.com/2013/05/20/how-to-help-okla-tornado-victims/

http://www.koco.com/weather/list-of-shelters-info-on-how-to-help/-/9845544/20229706/-/kw5eawz/-/index.html

http://www.okcfox.com/newsroom/top_stories/videos/kokh_vid_11234.shtml

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Thank you for taking the time to weigh in and help steer people in the right direction!

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Update on donating to the Red Cross:

The American Red Cross has set up shelters in communities across The Plains. You can donate to the Red Cross Disaster relief fund here http://www.redcross.org/charitable-donations?c=upw3 , or make a $10 donation using your phone by texting REDCROSS to 90999.

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@stile99: Oh gosh! I didn't know you were in that area! I'm so very, very glad to know you're all right.

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from firsthand experience, I can say don't send blankets, cots, jackets, clothes, food,, or any supplies unless it's A) asked for, and B) within a reasonable distance.

The fuel costs to deliver these items could be better spent procuring them closer to the area they're needed and thereby save on transport costs. Also, there are typically tons upon tons of these items left over... they're usually not needed.

I was in the National Guard during the 89 earthquake in California, and my unit was very near the epicenter. We were activated, and when all was said and done there were literally mountains of tents, cots, blankets, sleeping bags, clothes, and spoiled food that were loaded into garbage trucks and taken to the landfill.

Listen to what LOCAL (to the disaster area) charities are asking for if you absolutely feel the need to donate goods instead of cash. Otherwise, I tend to trust the religious charities mentioned here the most. In general, they're just more trustworthy.

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Thank you @thumpechick for posting this question...I want to know why it is not first on the POPULAR page?