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Giving Back 101: 5 ways to help when a natural disaster strikes


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When natural disasters strike, we often feel helpless. As we hear stories of death and destruction, there are also stories of hope interspersed with the horrific images that appear onscreen or in newspapers. It is those stories of hope that need to inspire us to help – even when we’re not sure how. Below are five ways to contribute that can improve conditions for those living in the disaster areas or closer to home. And they can also improve your own mental and emotional wellness as you build a more solid connection with the world outside your own little bubble. Here are a few ways you can help:

1. Donate money. This is the easiest and fastest way to make a difference and there are organizations around the world that are using that money in the places it is needed most. www.hopeforhaitinow.org   www.redcross.org 

2. Donate blood. When disaster strikes, there is always a need for blood even in 3rd world countries. And even if blood isn’t needed there, it is always needed somewhere so you will be helping someone somewhere every time you donate. www.redcrossblood.org

3. Donate clothing and household goods. Even if your donation doesn’t go directly to the disaster area, it all trickles up and down the chain. Someone who needs your discards will thank you for it and you get a tax write-off and a more organized and simplified home. www.vvapickup.org  www.salvationarmy.org

 4. Donate food. Drop off food at your local food shelf. These supplies get diminished very quickly and they rely on people to donate to keep food flowing to those in need. www.emergencyfoodshelf.org

 5. Donate time. Work at a soup kitchen, volunteer at a shelter or even on your own to serve those in need or to organize a fundraiser with proceeds going to a charitable organization.  www.volunteermatch.org

 And remember that even the smallest contribution of time, money or resources all adds up to a lot if we all chip in so start cleaning out your closets, emptying your change jars and finding time on your calendar to start making the world a better place to live. And if you have kids, get them involved. Philanthropy is a wonderful characteristic to instill in them and seeing you participating in these charitable acts will reinforce how important it is. And you will be helping others and also helping yourself to become a more giving, empathetic person who can be a role model for others.  
 

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