If you've been paying attention to the news, you're probably suffering from a bit of hurricane fatigue. But now that Hurricane Maria has swept through the Caribbean and laid waste to Puerto Rico and several other islands, the people who actually live in the region are suffering through a lot more than that. If you want to get involved in the relief efforts, you may be wondering how to donate clothes to Hurricane Maria victims. For the people who lost everything — and many people are in exactly this situation — a pair of pants could go a long way.
For Puerto Rico, the hurricane caused damage beyond what anyone could have imagined. The entire island is currently without power because of a decimated power grid, which means that 3.5 million U.S. citizens currently don't have any electricity. Hurricane Irma had already damaged its power grid, and Maria made things far worse. The island was already steeped in massive debt, so their budget to cope with disasters of this scale simply isn't there. To put it bluntly, Puerto Rico needs help, and while the federal government will certainly provide a lot of it, it's going to take months or years for the island to fully recover.
You have a couple of options to donate to the relief effort, though. The Puerto Rican Leadership Council of South Florida is heading up an effort to collect clothes, non-perishable food items, medical supplies, and several other things to send to Puerto Rico. Their effort is based in South Florida, so this is a good option if you live in Miami or somewhere nearby.
Global Giving is putting together a big campaign to help victims of Hurricane Maria, as is the Salvation Army, although they're mainly focused on monetary donations. The logistical challenges of shipping physical donations, they say, are just to great to make it worthwhile at this time.
As a general rule of thumb, if it's at all possible for you, it's better to donate cash rather than stuff to relief efforts. The organizations who actually have teams on the ground know exactly what the people who they're helping need, so if you donate money than they can choose exactly where that money goes. If thousands of people donate clothes, then the relief organization have to spend time sorting the donations and then distributing them, and there's no guarantee that what you're giving is actually something that people need. There are numerous organizations helping Hurricane Maria victims, and any of them would be happy to accept even the smallest donation if you can spare it.
Puerto Rico wasn't the only island affected by the storm; the island of Dominica also sustained a direct and devastating blow, and they're now also in need of help. There's a crowdfunding effort meant specifically for Dominica, which is aiming to raise 5 million pounds to help out the victims of that island. Overall, there are numerous organizations helping all of the areas affected by the storm, like the Red Cross, and they would be thrilled to accept even the smallest donation that you can offer.
If you would really rather donate clothes or food rather than money, try searching in your hometown to see if anyone is organizing a food or clothes drive. They won't exist everywhere, but they're already popping up around the country. Whatever you can give to the relief effort, find a way to do it, because this series of hurricanes has truly left some of these islands in an unimaginable state. They don't need you to send good thoughts and prayers — they need you to send food, clothes, and especially money.