Savannah organizations send Hurricane Harvey disaster relief - WTOC-TV: Savannah, Beaufort, SC, News, Weather & Sports

Savannah organizations send Hurricane Harvey disaster relief


Savannah-based charities and nonprofits are sending disaster relief to those hit by Hurricane Harvey and explaining the best ways locals can help people along the Gulf Coast.

The American Red Cross of Southeast and Coastal Georgia is sending volunteers and raising money to help those in Texas and Louisiana.

"We're calling down our volunteers," said Esther Sheppard, executive director of The American Red Cross of Southeast and Coastal Georgia. "We're checking in to see who's available. Those volunteers that are available, if they need additional training to be able to go out, we're making sure they get that training."

One of those volunteers is Larry Yawn, who is a regular Red Cross volunteer. Hurricane Harvey is Yawn's seventh deployment for disaster relief, but it's his first working in mass care, which covers basic needs like food and shelter.

"There is an absolute need, and there is so much appreciation among the clients that we encounter," Yawn, who typically volunteers as a supervisor of disaster services technology, said. "The team spirit is absolutely all out. Some of the most motivated people I've ever worked with have been on these disaster recovery operations. They're very skilled. They're very experienced, and they're just a joy to work with."

Especially after Hurricane Matthew, Yawn said people in coastal Georgia know how badly help is needed and how essential it is to recovery.

"I know a little bit about what's ahead of these folks here, so it's not going to be over in a few days by any means," he said. "Showing patience, compassion and some real skill, and helping them with solutions."

Sheppard said the personal understanding of hurricane devastation likely makes locals more inclined to help.

"I think because people did experience Hurricane Matthew last year, they realize that there were extenuating needs that people had in our community, and they know how the community gave back," she said. "Goodness, we have seen so many disasters, but this one is so unprecedented. We haven't seen anything like this in the last 10 years as an organization, as a country, and so naturally, people to want to give."

She said the most effective way to have an immediate impact is a monetary donation.

"The biggest thing is that we're raising funds," Sheppard said. "This is going to be a massive response for our organization, and we really need people to consider giving financially. Money is the quickest way that American Red Cross can put support on the ground. You know, there are generous people throughout the nation that want to give items, and for us, it's tough for American Red Cross to manage."

While collecting supplies is a thoughtful gesture, Sheppard said it isn't easy to get those goods to those in need.

"Our folks have wonderful hearts here throughout our community, and they're always going to jump into action and say 'What can I do,'" she said. "I've had so many calls (Monday) of people wanting to do several things, and we just try and give them the best guidance as possible. We don't try to deter them from what they want to do, but we just try to teach them and make sure that they're thinking about it and thinking through. The people there, in both Texas and Louisiana, they're so inundated with water right now, they cannot even take items that people intentionally just want to give right now. It's just not the best thing."

You can donate money to the Red Cross online or call 1-800-RED CROSS. You can make automatic $10 donations by texting HARVEY to 90999. If you'd like to volunteer, applications are available online.

"You may not be able to deploy," Sheppard said. "You may not be able to get up and go to another part of the country, but this time, we need people to help us answer phones. We need (them) to help us pull some things logistically together. So if you have time, we ask people to consider volunteering, and not just when there's a disaster, but throughout the year. There's always a spot for someone to help out our organization."

Yawn said, "There's a place for you out there. Just come. You will need training to be of assistance to others. You'll need some training. You'll need some motivation, and you'll need to know that there are others that are doing the same thing that you're doing. You'll be in good company.

Charity Navigator created a list of charities providing assistance in the wake of Hurricane Harvey where donors can research the organization and how it spends its money.

Aside from the American Red Cross, other charities listed include:

  • All Hands Volunteers: nonprofit organization that addresses the immediate and long-term needs of communities impacted by natural disasters by engaging and leveraging volunteers, partner organizations and local communities.
  • Americares: Emergency Programs, access to medicine, clinical services and community services
  • Carlito's Mexican Bar and Grill: Downtown Savannah restaurant will be donating 15% of proceeds from Friday, September 1 (all day) to Global Giving's Harvey Relief Fund.
  • Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston: provides food, clothing, and shelter for people in need and a network of services supporting infants to seniors.
  • Convoy of Hope: faith-based, nonprofit organization with a driving passion to feed the world through children’s feeding initiatives, community outreaches and disaster response.
  • Direct Relief: medical assistance programs equip health professionals working in resource-poor communities to meet the challenges of diagnosing, treating, and caring for people without regard to politics, religion, gender, race, or ability to pay.
  • Global Giving: connects nonprofits, donors, and companies in nearly every country around the world. We help local nonprofits access the funding, tools, training, and support they need to become more effective.
  • International Relief Teams: Nonprofit humanitarian organization dedicated to alleviating human suffering by providing health and other supportive services to victims of disaster, poverty and neglect, both internationally and domestically.
  • Jewish United Fund of Metropolitan Chicago: providing human services for Jews and others in need, creating Jewish experiences and strengthening Jewish community connections.
  • MAP International: Brunswick-based Christian organization providing life-changing medicines and health supplies to people in need. In times of disaster, MAP International provides immediate humanitarian assistance and relief aid including medicines and health supplies to people left homeless and without access to basic services. From the earliest days of a response, MAP focuses on helping communities restore critical services and work with partners to help them rebuild health systems.
  • Matthew 25: Ministries: Caring for a needy world with the things we throw away
  • Samaritan's Purse: A non-denominational evangelical Christian organization providing spiritual and physical aid to hurting people around the world. Since 1970, Samaritan’s Purse has helped meet needs of people who are victims of war, poverty, natural disasters, disease, and famine.
  • Specialty Sports: Selling #HoustonStrong shirts to benefit Hurricane Harvey victims. 100% of the profits will go to the Red Cross! Donations can be made on the site or in store. 
  • Save the Children: Creating lasting change for children in need in the United States and around the world
  • St. Bernard Project: Increasing resilience before disasters occur and streamlining the post-disaster recovery process, we're able to fortify people against unnecessary stress and trauma. 

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