- Used Clothes
- Teddy Bears
- Pet Supplies
- Mixed Items in a Care Package
- Bottled Water & Canned Food
- Your Unsolicited Help
- Money to the Wrong People
The most important thing I learned writing this article is the danger of being half-right. We are absolutely right to assume that supplies like extra clothes, blankets and nonperishable food are critical following a natural disaster. But we are wrong to think that the best way to get those goods to the victims of a disaster is by donating them ourselves. In fact, by taking the great initiative to collect, pack and ship donations to a disaster area, we are making life much more difficult for the overwhelmed relief workers and volunteers on the ground.Where to help?
There is a hopeful note for those who really want to donate physical goods rather than send money. Go to the National Donations Management Network, a searchable online database of nonprofit organizations that have posted a specific and urgent need for disaster supplies. If you own a business, this is a great way to connect with, say, AmeriCorps volunteers in New York and send them a dozen 220-volt commercial heaters or 100 Tyvek suits for mold remediation. Keep up the good work!