11 things you should know about volunteering and donating after a disaster
After severe weather disasters, Kansans want to know how they can help a neighbor. United Way of the Plains says anyone wanting to help in recovery efforts should know these things:
1. Volunteers need to sign up pre-disaster. Mark Stump, Director of Direct Services for United Way of the Plains says it appreciates all volunteers, but they need to sign up before disasters. He says organizations require training for volunteers. "If Red Cross has to open a shelter, you just don't go and work at that shelter. You just don't bake some cookies and take it to that shelter. You have to be a registered volunteer with them. Whatever background checks they do. The Salvation Army is the same," Stump says.
2. Volunteers may be required to have vaccinations. Organizations may require that volunteers show proof of a recent vaccines, like tetanus shots, for example.
3. Volunteers need to be self-sufficient. Stump says volunteers should have proper footwear and clothing and bring their own food and water when assisting with clean up.
4. United Way can help volunteers.United Way can help you find an organization to volunteer with. Call 211 or click
to get started.
5. The government tracks volunteer hours during clean-up. Communities can get public assistance money to compensate first responders. Agencies closely log hours and report to the government to ensure communities get all the assistance it qualifies for.
6. Law enforcement protects the community from looters. Officers shut down roads and only volunteers registered with organizations, often wearing wristbands, are the only ones allowed inside the town.
7. Non-profits prefer monetary donations. A storm can wipe out an entire town, so organizations don't have places to store physical donations. Victims also leave the area, so they aren't there to get donations. Organizations can make a dollar go farther when victims do need supplies.
8. If you are cleaning out your closet and want to donate, Stump suggests donating it to a thrift store year-round. Thrift stores provide support to families after disasters.
9. In most cases, victims just need a place to stay while they work things out with the insurance company. That's when United Way can help families stay in a hotel, and it needs money to pay for that hotel. some displaced families live in hotels after.
10. Families with insurance get a lot replaced. They don't need donations, but rather money to help pay for day-to-day living expenses while waiting for the insurance company to replace belongings.
11. Read reviews and reports from the Better Business Bureau. If you're nervous about donating money to an organization, click
to see its rating by the BBB.