I am deeply saddened by the Black Forest Fire, which is is currently devastating so many homes right now in Colorado. We are not too close to the fires, but feel the impact still. It was almost exactly a year ago that evacuated friends from the Waldo Canyon fire (also in Colorado Springs) were staying at our house. I will be doing a small series (at the same time as my paper clutter series) focusing on disaster planning and relief.
Today I’ll focus on relief efforts, as that is what is truly needed right now. There are many local and national organizations pitching in to get supplies to where they are needed most. Many individuals and small businesses are also stepping up to collect supplies for displaced families as well as the firefighters. When there is a disaster in your area (whether it is a fire, tornado, hurricane, or other disaster), it can be difficult to locate the right resources and to make sure your donations are being used in the proper way. Unfortunately, there are people who take advantage of others during a crisis, so you want to make sure you are working with legitimate organizations. Here are a few tips for making sure you can feel confident in your relief efforts.
1) Donate to a well known national organization, such as the Red Cross.
Red Cross and other national organizations have a reputation to live up to and you are also able to choose to make a general donation to them or choose a local chapter for your funds to go to.
2) Become familiar with your local food banks now and find one that you feel comfortable donating to. In Colorado Springs, there are many food banks and organizations who are helping with relief efforts. However, there are several large ones that most commonly come up, such as Care and Share.
3) Ask friends and neighbors for recommendations. There are so many smaller organizations out there that are doing an amazing job at helping with relief, but not a lot of people know about them. Ask around to see if you can find a small organization that you would like to donate to. A friend of mine was familiar with an organization called Battle Bumms who provides cloth diapers to low income military families. She told me they were doing a relief drive for the Black Forest Fire victims. They are currently collecting clothing, toiletries, toys, etc for donation to the over 400 families who have lost their homes already. They are also collecting food donations which they will then take to Care and share. I went through my kid’s closet and was able to get a garbage bag worth of clothing, books and toys to donate. I also went through the bathrooms and compiled a bag of toiletries, including lotions, soap, diaper rash cream, toothbrushes, etc for donation.
This type of donation is nice because you don’t have any expenses, items are already on hand, and you don’t have to wonder what was purchased with a monetary donation. In addition, the items don’t have to be purchased by an organization so, in theory, they are able to be distributed more quickly.
4) Check the local news for recommendations. Though the news is not 100% accurate, they also have reputations to live up to so they usually do a good job of recommending legitimate sources. Our news station’s websites and Facebook pages are full of resources and information on how to help. For the Black Forest fire, there was also a Facebook page set up by several local people who wanted a place to post all reliable information, updates and resources. It is the Colorado Black Forest Fire 2013 page and is getting a lot of press as being up to date, honest, and reliable.
5) Volunteer your time. Many organizations need help during a crisis and there are all sorts of ways to help. You could volunteer to help load food at one of the food banks. A friend of mine is taking her kids to help walk dogs at an animal shelter that is housing displaced animals. There are so many ways to help and I believe that the spirit of giving back is not felt more deeply than when you are able to see the good you are doing.
If you would like to donate to help the relief efforts of the Black Forest Fire, you can click on the links in this post or feel free to find other, reputable sources. Keep Colorado Springs in your hearts right now. Thank you.