The scenes of devastation that Hurricane Harvey left behind Houston and nearby region of Texas are absolutely heartbreaking. Chances are your children have caught glimpses of the flooded streets and displaced residents, which may leave them with questions: What is going on? Will they be OK? How can we help Hurricane Harvey victims?
Amidst this grief, there is an incredible opportunity to be forces of good. As Mr. Rogers once said...
When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, “Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping." To this day, especially in times of disaster, I remember my mother's words and I am always comforted by realizing that there are still so many helpers—so many caring people in this world.
Today, we can empower our children to be helpers. Here are a few ways to get started:
Have your children write messages for your online donations
With postal service limited and relief urgently needed, most organizations are requesting online donations. Along with the contributions, many organizations include text boxes to include messages of support. Ask your children what they want to say and type it out for them.
Run a lemonade stand or bake sale this weekend and donate earnings
Make some lemonade or cookies, paint a sign explaining the proceeds go to relief efforts and set up a stand in your neighborhood. You can allow your children to mail off the earnings to a charity of their choice in an envelope or you can tally it all up and make a donation in their name on the website.
Have your kids write letters to relatives asking for a donation to a cause their choice
Help your kids explore different charitable organizations—perhaps the SPCA of Texas for pet-lovers or the Texas Diaper Bank for those who want to help other kids. Then help them handwrite letters to grandparents, aunts or uncles to encourage them to make donations.
Draw pictures or write letters to mail to affected children
The simple act of drawing uplifting pictures or letters teaches children empathy—which we could always use more of in this world. You may need to hold onto these creations until displaced residents are in more secure locations, but it would be so meaningful for another child to receive a letter of support from a new pen-pal.
Pick out toys or clothes
With many area residents losing everything they had to flooding, children will be in need of new clothes, toys and gear once they are resettled. Go to the store with your children and encourage them to pick a few things within a certain budget that a kid their own age might like or need.
Bring older children with you as you donate blood
Although blood donations are most urgently needed within Texas, the AABB said blood collection agencies around the country are seeking eligible donors (especially those with type O-positive blood). Bringing older children along as you donate is a great way to demonstrate a truly selfless act.
Include children in local events
Check your local newspaper or Facebook pages for information on in-person fundraisers—then pick a family-friendly one and include the kids.
The relief effort for Hurricane Harvey will be ongoing for weeks, months and beyond. At home, be sure to keep the conversation going with your children. And for those affected, know that you're in the thoughts of our families—including the smallest family members. ❤️