1) The disaster is not over!
2) Don’t send things that no one asked for
3) Don’t go where you’re not invited
You impulse to go, and give sacrificially of your time and talents is wonderful!
Unless you have been specifically invited by a local organization to come and help, please stay home. Remember – the disaster is not actually over yet (see #1). If you are not a trained first responder, chances are there is not much you can do yet. In fact, you may very well wind up in the way of the people you are trying to help.
Don’t forget: the homes, hotels, and camp grounds in the disaster area in California have burned down. The people whose homes have burned are using the nearest guest rooms, hotels, and church gyms. If you or your group takes those spots, that is one less spot for an evacuated local.
4) Cash, gift cards, and support
There will come a moment – very soon – when the disaster is over. When the people in California ask others to come and help, and ask for specific goods to help with rebuilding.
Until then, cash, gift cards, and your genuine support are priceless.
- The congregations in Georgia that sent an envelop full of gift cards for Home Depot, Target, and Lowes in small amounts ($25-$50) which could then be passed out to those in need.
- The churches in Las Vegas and New Jersey who sent cards made by their youth and children
- The countless communities who took up extra collections and sent them to local organizations to help
- The people who reached out one month, two months, six months later, to offer on going support and help after the news cameras were gone