Nonprofit Disaster Relief in Oklahoma: What Can You Learn? How Can You Help?

June 04, 2013 by Logan Harper

When disaster strikes, especially major disasters like the devastating tornado in Moore, Oklahoma, it affects the entire country. The media is flooded with images of the damage and stories of survival and heroism. In cities and towns across the country, people want to reach out and help in any way they can. It is important to learn the best ways you can help the disaster relief effort to ensure your assistance reaches its intended destination.

Which Nonprofit Organizations Are Helping?

Many of the nation’s best-known nonprofit organizations are supporting disaster relief efforts in order to assist the community of Moore, Oklahoma. They are there to provide food, shelter, and information on financial assistance to get the people of Moore back on their feet. Here are a few that are helping in the region:

The Red Cross is one of the primary organizations that help with all natural disasters. They organize the distribution of necessary supplies, oversee blood donation needs, and even reunite family members who have been separated during the crises.

The Salvation Army often steps in to help after a natural disaster. They have deployed mobile kitchens to the region to help feed those who have been displaced by the storm. These kitchens can serve as many as 2,500 people every day.

Feeding America, which operates more than 200 food banks across the country, is helping tornado victims by supplying food to those who have been affected. The Regional Food Bank of OklahomaFeed the ChildrenOperation Blessing International, and Save the Children, are also working to bring food to victims who have lost their homes or are without power.

Now that search and rescue efforts are completed and the estimated total damage of this disaster has become more apparent, other organizations are helping with the massive cleanup. The OK Strong Disaster Relief Fund is providing medical, emotional, and educational support for those impacted by the tornado.Oklahoma Baptist Disaster Relief  is helping with tree removal and laundry services. Operation USA is providing assistance with rebuilding materials, shelter, and cleaning supplies. Direct Relief, based in California, is providing personal hygiene products and medical care to victims.

How Can You Help?

One of the first questions people ask when they hear about a tragedy like this is, “How can I help?” This is an important question because there will be many well-meaning people who will do the wrong thing with only the best of intentions. Scam artists may start contacting people to take up donations that will supposedly reach those affected by the disaster, and many will give money thinking they are helping victims. Other people will fail to heed the advice of what not to send.

The most important thing the average citizen can do is give money to reputable organizations that have a history of providing disaster relief, like the ones listed above. Blood donations are another important way to help victims, especially if you have an in-demand blood type.

Though it may be tempting to raid your closets or pantry to help, you should avoid sending:

  • Clothing
  • Toys
  • Household items
  • Food
  • Personal care items
  • Diapers

The reason these donations are typically frowned upon is simple. The nonprofit organizations that provide assistance are able to purchase more products for less money. Therefore, it is best to send the money directly instead of making the purchase yourself. In addition, the used clothing and toys require additional manpower to evaluate and distribute. In many cases, these donations are discarded.

If you are unsure where to send donations, choose one of the organizations mentioned above. To ensure your donation will be used properly, visit Charity Navigator. On this site, you can check what percentage of donations actually reaches those in need for particular charities.

What Can Organizations Learn from This?

Organizations that wish to help can benefit from watching the coordination of the relief efforts. In these disasters, the Red Cross typically stands at the helm. They coordinate all the organizations to ensure those who need the most assistance receive it. The proper coordination of these efforts is necessary for the success of the entire operation. The best way organizations can help is to begin collections and donate funds to a reputable charity.

The Moore, Oklahoma, tornado is still fresh in everyone’s minds. Since the second wave of storms hit the state last Friday, the disaster relief efforts have been going strong to provide those affected with the assistance they need to begin the process of moving forward. With the help of everyday citizens and various nonprofit organizations, Moore—and other affected cities—can work toward healing and rebuilding.