In the wake of so many natural disasters lately, I got inspired to write this blog about my views on charity. My heart aches for all the people lately affected by the fires, hurricanes and earthquakes. Not to mention the chemical plant leaks, floods, and human violence added into the mix. So a lot of us sit and watch this wishing we had some way to help those affected. Thus... we consider charity.
When someone mentions charity, most people's first thought is "Red Cross". However, I highly discourage anyone from donating to Red Cross, as they have been proven (personal experience included) to give poor service to those they are supposed to be helping... and the money often disappears or doesn't end up going toward the needs of people in the disasters. There are plenty of articles online you can read about the shadiness of this "charity" so I wont elaborate on it too much here. However, when the Red Cross came to help my county with the Valley Fire (and others) I saw and heard personal experiences of rude staff, stingy aid, and turning people away who were in need. I do not like the Red Cross now, and think they really need to re-evaluate how they provide aid.
With that said, there are countless other charities you can contribute to. Just be careful and do your research to find out if they are honest and legit. There are several scams out there pretending to be charities to rip people off of their money. The scummiest of scum. Read up on the charity; check their website, ask if people have heard about them or interacted with them before and their opinion of it. See what percentage they take for operational cost compared to what is used and given to the cause. "GoFundMe" is a good source to find a lot of charities on a site you can trust... but not all the GoFundMe causes are legit, so be careful.
You can also donate plenty of other things besides money, if you are capable.
Donate Your Time - Help at soup kitchens, help hand out water or supplies, help search and rescue with an extra pair of eyes, help clear rubble in disaster areas. Just make sure when you do these things that you aren't actually putting yourself in danger and getting in the way of emergency staff. Giving them extra people to have to save will hinder more than help things.
Donate Your Blood - Sadly this often comes to the Red Cross... but it is what it is. One of the most vital resources needed in times of disaster is blood. So if you are able, you should consider finding a venue (usually a van, or a temporary place at a fire station) to donate your blood at. It costs you nothing but a little of your energy that day, and might actually save a person's life. In some places, they might even pay you to give your blood (though that has become rare these days.)
Donate Your Items - Have some canned food, jackets, blankets, clothes, baby formula, etc. just laying around that you don't need? Look for donation bins at local stores or charity drives in your area that are collecting these things. Winter is almost here, so the need for these things is increased. You could be even be saving a child's life just by providing a jacket so they don't freeze in their heartless home this winter. You'd be surprised what you have in your house that you haven't even thought of in years, that could brighten another person's day by donating it.
Donate Yourself - Similar to donating your time, if you have a particular skill that can help others out... try volunteering your skills to help! First responder training? First aid training? Vet training? There are a lot of skills people might have that could be in short supply during a disaster, so check around and see if they are in need of any services that you might be able to aid with.
Finally, I'll end this blog by adding that every little bit of charity you give in this world helps. Even if you drop a penny into that little jar at the cash register. Give a hamburger to a hungry homeless person. Buy some toys for Toys for Tots. Visit a children's hospital to read to them or give some other form of entertainment to cheer them up and give them more hope for living. Add #charity hashtags to online movements when sponsors are donating simply for the sharing of their information. The opportunity to help is everywhere. All you have to do is open yourself up to it. If any of you have, or plan to give to charity, I thank you from the bottom of my heart for being a good human being. This world needs more kindness between people, and every little gesture helps.
Toys for Tots: https://www.toysfortots.org/
Blood Donations (Red Cross): http://www.redcrossblood.org/donating-blood
And if you are on Twitch as of the time of this blog, don't forget to add the #charity hashtag when you give streamers bits, as it is donating to children right now. :)