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Giving Back During Times of Crisis

Posted on 23 September 2017

With all of the natural disasters happening around us, it's easy to feel overwhelmed and incapable of doing anything to help.

But every bit of support makes a difference — because compassion isn't about how bad you feel about something, it's about finding ways to ease the burden on those affected most. 

"True compassion means not only feeling another's pain, but also being moved to help relieve it." Quote by Daniel Goleman

If you're feeling lost and want to help, here are some things to keep in mind: 

1. If you're able to donate money, please do. 

Many on-the-ground organizations prefer cash donations over donated items. This helps them purchase the specific items that are needed in a timely manner, and also helps with quality control (see #3 for why people don't want your used underwear). Cash donations also allow organizations to purchase travel or accommodation vouchers, which are often very needed. 

2. Research local organizations in the affected areas and find out what they're doing to help their community. Then, see what those organizations need. 

While the Red Cross may be able to mobilize water and accommodations support quickly, they often aren't capable of providing long-term community support. They're capable of providing short-term relief, like sleeping arrangements, hygiene items, and cases of water. 


3. If you're going to donate items, make them new.

If you don't want it in your house, someone who is suffering a tragedy probably doesn't want it either. That doesn't make them selfish or ungrateful — it makes them humans worthy of dignity. 


4. Remember that it's okay to take a break.

Living through a tragedy is traumatizing. And absorbing media about trauma 24/7 takes a toll on your mental health. When your own mental health is suffering, it becomes much more difficult to take care of others, and all of that stress builds. Disconnect for a day or two if you have to. The world will understand. 

If you've worked on crisis response initiatives, what lessons did you learn? What was needed most? What didn't you expect? 

How will you support your community today? 

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