Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Send Money, Not Wedding Dresses

Millions of dollars are pouring in to relief agencies for Haiti; rescue teams from cities and countries around the world are on site; food and water and medical care are beginning to get to the people who need them; military divisions and peacekeepers from several countries have arrived to orchestrate the relief and keep order.

We watch it all on television and often feel frustrated that we can't do something more immediate to help. It's frustrating. Somehow clicking on a link and whipping out the credit card seem so removed from the urgent demand.

Good people often give in to that frustration and begin campaigns to amass goods to send to the affected people. Others figure out a way to get there in order to help directly. There are already efforts underway to collect gently used shoes and clothing for the earthquake victims.

The need is there for all these goods, but sometimes the arrangements for getting them to the disaster area and then on to the victims  makes unnecessary complications for everyone.

Any plans to send goods to Haiti should go through one of the recognized, experienced aid organizations who have the disaster supply lines - the logistics - to carry out a mission successfully.

The Center for International Disaster Information offers guidelines for donating. They say that "Monetary Contributions to Established Relief Agencies are Always the Most Useful Response to Disasters." They also give guidelines for the donation of commodities (like what not to send). Finally, they say that "Volunteer Opportunities for Disaster Relief are Extremely Limited."

Canned food and bottled water may seem logical, but are inefficient. Somebody has to unload and distribute commodities, and the people already working in any disaster already have jobs to do. And the people working with relief agencies are trained; volunteers often are not and can get seriously in the way - be more of a hindrance than a help.

The Huffington Post has links for people to purchase goods for relief agencies.

So send money if you can. Collect shoes and clothing for an experienced relief agency. But please, no wedding dresses, or other useless stuff - reported on How Stuff Works about the tsunami in 2004:
care packages piled up containing everything from pajamas and teddy bears to birth control pills and Bibles — a hodgepodge impossible to sort through. There were boxes filled with half-used ointments and prescription drugs, as if do-gooders had cleaned out their medicine cabinets.
Remember - Money is best! (to a reputable agency - here's a link to a list of them).


angelshair said...

This is true, goods ask so many logistic and money to get there that it is better to give money to the organizations that know how to deal with this king of catastrophy.

ChrisJ said...


I've been reading more and it's amazing what people send - even golf balls!

* said...

I think people just feel helpless. My mom was in a knot about what to do, and I simply said, donate to a good charity.

I hope that the money reaches the right people.

ChrisJ said...

To *

Yes, we already cannot control the earthquakes and other disasters; now we are helpless and cannot have any direct control over helping.

askcherlock said...

Excellent post! You are so right about sending items which are necessary,rather than frivolous things. My two choices for sending money are the Red Cross and Doctors without Borders.

Keep up the good work. You have shown by example that we are not helpless in wanting to send aid.

One of The Guys said...

This is so sad. Thanks for providing us with good information so we can help.

ChrisJ said...

Cher, Thanks. Yes, those two are tried and true - I especially like Doctors Without Borders.

Yes, we always need information. Thanks for commenting.

nothingprofound said...

I live in a very politically active small town and fund-raising here began almost immediately. I left a donation at a local "alternative" bank and I'm sure the money will reach the desired location. What happens to it once it gets there is anybody's guess. Tragedies of this magnitude simply leave one speechless. Two hundred thousand lives lost. So sad.

ChrisJ said...


Thank you so much for commenting.

You're so right - what is there to say? Words ultimately fail us.

Ryhen | Mind Power said...

I definitely agree with everything you said. I can't even think about anything to add. Btw, did Marty just say 200,000 lives were lost? Geez... I didn't know the death toll climbed up to that scale.

ChrisJ said...


I'm hoping that is not an official number and that it doesn't get that high, but...

I'm glad you're weighing in here - thx.

Daisy Soap Girl said...

That is excellent advice. Money is a priority at this time.

ChrisJ said...

Daisy Soap Girl,

I've been reading that all of our efforts are working and the money is pouring in. I hope people continue to make it a priority.

Thank you for commenting.