Thursday, August 31, 2017

Teaching Your Kids How They Can Help When Disaster Strikes

With Texas in the midst of a natural disaster from Hurricane Harvey, you've likely seen a lot of articles and Facebook posts titled "Donate Now To Help The Victims of Harvey" and "Send ____ To Texas." It's hard to know where to give your time, money, and/or other donations to with all of the organizations, GoFund me's, and various charities around. For me, I like to know where my money is going and that it's being spent to actually help those in need. I have (unwittingly) passed this onto my children, who feel the need to aid in any disaster, in any way they can.

Setting an example like this for them has been important to me from day one. We often volunteer packaging meals at Meals From The Heartland, help stock our local food banks and pantries, buy random packages of diapers for women's shelters (in our area), and give to fundraisers. I tend to stay away from the larger organizations and go directly to the local sources whenever possible. This especially gives kids the knowledge to see how they are helping, rather than just hearing about how xxx amount of money is helping someone, somewhere. Since we are unable to go to Texas to volunteer our time (and really, you're welcome for keeping the hooligans away), we have found other ways to give help to Texans.

Volunteering for the first time at Meals From The Heartland in 2014, at the ripe ole' age of 6.

Here are a few easy ways that you and your kids can show support when disasters occur:
  • Give to local food banks. By giving, I mean send cash or check. Contact local food banks in the area of the disaster. You can ask what they need most, but cash is usually the best way to give so they can spend the money on the necessities as they arise.
  • Donate blood. This is one for adults, but you can easily tell kids what you're doing and why. 
  • Contact disaster area shelters and ask what their needs are. Keep in mind with attempting to mail or send things via the postal system, UPS, or FedEx, delivery trucks may not be allowed through due to flooding, delaying packages. Make sure that delivery is available to where you would like to send items.
  • See if any local charities are making a trip to the area. We have several companies and charities in our area that are sending trucks and volunteers to the communities affected by Harvey. This can be said for any natural disaster or any other kind of situation where people need help. This is an excellent way to donate clothes, blankets, everyday household items, toiletries, etc. 
  • A lot of the area animal shelters affected by disasters get help from other shelters around the country. Contact your local animal shelter(s) to see if they are the recipients of any animals. If so, their needs for the basics are on the rise (think food, paper towels, cleaning supplies, etc.). This is a great way to get kids involved and donating.

The most important reasons for including your children in relief efforts is not for your benefit, it is for theirs. It gives them first-hand experience in helping others and how to show compassion to those in need.