Ideas on assisting in the relief effort without going in person. Much can be done without leaving your house. Give those affected by disaster some hope, and use some of these ideas to help them.

Saturday, March 18, 2006

Focus Your Help

First, you need to treat this like a business.
I make it sound so complex!
Well, it isn't. And planning it like a business makes it that much easier. I figured that out after I started.First - who is your target audience? Decide what exactly you want to help. Do you want to help 1 family, 1 community, 1 school, 1 county, 1 not for profit organization? What pulls you the most?

For me, I'm the savior child - I need to help everyone and save everything. That's why I've got so many irons in the fire. But it is not something I advocate by any stretch of the imagination.

And for my sister, it's Clayton with www.operationeden.blogspot.com. She's done stuff for others, but he and his momma are her main focus. So, she's working for HIM. And that is good!

Next, you have to create a business plan. That is - how are you going to help? Are you going to raise money, write letters to government officials, write letters to companies, have drives for material goods, find volunteers to go help, be a volunteer yourself?

Once you have focused your efforts into a single demographic and only a few facets of resources, you can truly be effective!

Start with your friends.
Think about every friend you have. What profession are they in? What hobbies do they have? What organizations are they part of? Every single one of these aspects is important and can be utilized.I have friends in construction. I haven't tapped them yet, but have found out what local and national organizations they belong to in hopes of involving the orgs further. I have friends in computer tech. They are all helping to their levels of comfort to assemble surplus items as well as buying items at discounted rates for places I've found in need. I have friends who are artists. I have asked them to donate items for the folks moving back into new housing and starting with nothing.

Churches are a huge resource. While most are tapped out financially at any given time, they are more so this year due to all of the catastrophes world wide. So ask for the ability to place needs/wish lists of whomever it is you are helping where the parishoners are able to see. Also ask for a material drive - things that are light to ship are a great thing, but not always possible. Something like a drive for dry erase markers - most schools are languishing for the lack of dry erase markers.

Colleges and Universities
All colleges and universities have student activity centers and student organizations. Call the campus, ask for the student activity/diversity department and then ask for student organizations that fit your needs. Everyone I have spoken to has been incredibly helpful in finding the right ones to fit my needs.
You can ask for funding, but generally they have very strict guidelines about the organizations they are allowed to donate to - usually have an authorized list they aren't able to stray from. But that doesn't mean the greek houses or the dorms can't do material drives to get needed items for your cause.

Most shipping companies, local or national chains, are unable to do more than they already have.

However, if you make your needs known to the press, very often they will publish your quandry and good samaritans come forward.
If not, try your local Police department. Their PBA has been set up to assist in 'good deeds'. This includes paying postage to send things to needy folks. You may have to be re-imbursed, but that's not a big deal. They cut a check very quickly.

Boy Scouts
I didn't get the hint to ask them for way too long. Eagle Scouts - need projects! Most are incredibly willing since community service is an integral part of their ideals.

And - if you have any other ideas or have done things that have or have not worked, PLEASE post them. We can all benefit from each others' experience and create a far more efficient and effective way of helping the folks involved in this disaster.


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