Harvey Relief: Here’s how you can help

Harvey devastated Houston and other parts of Texas since it made landfall on August 25.

Thousands remain displaced in shelters and many are still awaiting emergency rescue services. It is predicted that around 30,000 people will need temporary shelter, food and water. The hurricane is now heading to parts of Louisiana which may cause Hurricane Harvey to leave more victims in similar situations. 

The Virginia Department of Emergency Management wrote in an online press release that the “most effective way to support communities impacted by the storms is to donate money and time to trusted, reputable non-profit charitable organizations.”

Here are multiple ways to donate, volunteer and avoid donation scams to help Harvey victims in their recovery, even from afar. 

Here’s how to donate

According to Charity Navigator, here are a few local charities:

Other ways to donate are listed in “How to help victims of Harvey" by Yahoo News reporter Gabby Kaufman:

The Virginia Department of Emergency Management wrote in a press release to “not donate unsolicited goods such as used clothing, household items, medicine, or perishable foodstuffs.”

Here’s how to volunteer

American Red Cross: Visit the volunteer section of redcross.org to learn more about volunteer opportunities and how to apply to be a volunteer with the non-profit. They are also looking for musicians to play at the shelters.

United Way of the Virginia Peninsula: The organization is accepting donations for hurricane relief through monetary donations that can be dropped off at the United Way's office located at, 11820 Fountain Way, Suite 206 in Newport News . Donations can also be made online at uwvp.org.  All funds will be given to appropriate United Ways in Texas to directly assist relief efforts.

“We live in such a generous community,” said United Way of the Virginia Peninsula President and CEO Steven S. Kast said in a press release. “We have received an outpouring of calls and emails from people asking, ‘How can we help?’ United Ways across the country will rally for these communities in the months and years ahead.”

Virginia Blood Service: The Associated Press reports an increased need for blood donations in the wake of Hurricane Harvey. The organization said in a news release that at many blood drives and donor centers are closed in hurricane-affected areas. The release also state that the most critically needed are O blood donations.

Upcoming local blood drives - News 3 and the American Red Cross will host four blood drives at Hampton Roads malls this weekend. On the Peninsula, Patrick Henry mall in Newport News will hold blood drives from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Friday and Saturday, from noon to 5 p.m. Sunday and 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Monday.

AirBNB: If you have a home in Texas willing to host victims from Hurricane Harvey, visit this Facebook group. AirBNB will also waive all service fees for those affected by the disaster and who check in between August 23-September 25. Click here to learn more on their website.

José Andrés and World Central Kitchen’s Chef Network: The network of chefs are setting up a kitchen in Houston and need professional chefs and cooks to head to Houston immediately in order to prepare food, serve, clean and support Harvey victims. Click here to learn more. 

Salvation Army: Those who wish to assist with Houston relief through the Salvation Army, can text STORM to 51555, call 1-800-SAL-ARMY, visit helpsalvationarmy.org or mail a check to 5525 Raby Road, Norfolk, VA 23502.

More info: The Virginia Department of Emergency Management wrote in a press release that “Texas is asking volunteers not to self-deploy. Unexpected volunteers showing up will create an additional burden for first responders.”

The department continued by saying, “volunteers should only go into affected areas with a specific volunteer assignment, proper safety gear and valid identification.”

Here’s how to avoid scams

Forbes recently released an article titled “Help Houston: 4 Ways To Avoid Fake Harvey Charities.” The article includes four ways to avoid non-profit scams in order to make sure your donations are going to make a difference.

Here are the guidelines by Forbes contributor John F. Wasik to check the legitimacy of a charity or donation website:

  • A charity solicits your donation by phone or email.
  • Use an independent third party to evaluate the charity like charitynavigator.org.
  • See if the charity has boots on the ground.
  • Be wary of crowdfunding.

Read more about how Peninsula residents are helping Hurricane Harvey victims by reading "Peninsula residents sending help following massive flooding in Houston."

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