Hurricane Maria is making its way through the Caribbean, already having battered the island of Dominica and now heading toward the U.S. and British Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico. Tragically, Maria has already caused a great deal of destruction and stands to cause much more damage if the storm does indeed directly strike the islands in its current path. Thus, there are many current (and, sadly, probably future) victims of the storm that need your assistance. If you are so inclined, you can help Hurricane Maria's victims through donating your time and resources.
The primary way you can help Hurricane Maria victims consists of donating funds — and there are a variety of outlets and ways in which to donate. First, if you want to offer broad support and allow experts to disburse your funds, you should consider donating to Global Giving's Caribbean Hurricane Maria & Irma Relief Fund. The organization is collecting donations for Maria relief across all of the islands that have been (and will) be impacted by the hurricane. Campaign funds will go toward helping people secure emergency supplies as well as supplies needed for long-term recovery.
Many people are attracted to Global Giving campaigns because the organization disburses funds to other vetted various international and local organizations on the ground, prioritizing distributions based on need.
If you wish to select your own crowdfunded campaign for Hurricane Maria victims, as opposed to giving to a broader pool of funds, consider finding related campaigns on crowdfunding sites like GoFundMe or Fundly. You can find individual campaigns related to the hurricane by typing in "Hurricane Maria" in each website's search engine.
Moreover, if you are interested, there are also broader support campaigns that are receiving quite a few donations:
- The U.S. Virgin Islands and Maria Fund on GoFundMe
- Hurricane Maria and Irma Relief Campaign on Fundly
Of course, in addition to crowd funding, you can also directly donate to one of the many organizations that provide relief and recovery in the wake of natural disasters. Double the Donation, a company that helps non-profits fundraise, recommended that people consider contributing relief funds to the following organizations:
- Habitat for Humanity
- The Red Cross
- Mercy Corps
- Save the Children
- SPCA International
Of course, there are also many other organizations engaged in hurricane relief work to which you can donate if you so choose.
If you do decide to donate funds to one of the above-described campaigns or organizations, Fundly also recommends checking to see if your company will match your donation, thereby doubling it. According to Fundly's website, 15 to 19 million people work for a company that will match a charitable donation made by its employees. You can actually check to see if your company has this type of donation matching program with this online tool from Double The Donation. You simply type in your company's name and the website will let you know whether your company participates and, if so, what to do to ensure that your company does indeed match your donation.
In addition to donating money, you can also donate other resources to help Maria's victims. Blood donation is exceedingly important in the wake of a disaster. Indeed, according to the Red Cross' Hurricane Maria page, the "need for blood is nearly constant" and especially imperative during Maria —Hurricane Irma's arrival earlier this month forced the cancellation of many blood drives, as well as depleted supplies. You can donate blood by using the Red Cross Blood Donor App, visiting redcrossblood.org, or calling 1-800-RED CROSS. The organization notes that platelet supplies and Type O blood are especially needed right now.
Finally, you can also consider donating your time to help those affected by Maria. While it does not yet have a Maria page established (likely because the full extent of the hurricane's impact is not yet known as it continues to move through the Caribbean), the National Voluntary Organizations Active in Disasters (known as National VOAD) is a highly reputable organization that typically coordinates volunteer responses in the wake of disasters — something you should keep on your radar if you want to help out in-person. Indeed, you can currently register to volunteer for both Hurricane Irma and Hurricane Harvey relief, and will likely soon be able to do so for Maria, so keep an eye on the organization's web page.
There are certainly many ways to help those affected by Hurricane Maria, so if you're looking for a way to donate your resources or time, make sure you do so as soon as possible — urgent assistance for Maria's victims is very much needed.