When Hurricane Michael slammed into Florida this week, American families in that state, as well as in Georgia and the Carolinas had their lives upended. One of the most powerful hurricanes in U.S. history took lives, leveled entire neighborhoods, forced families from their homes and left others without power and necessary supplies.
We can only imagine how hard it must be for families trying to keep their children safe in a situation that feels anything but. If you're looking for a way to offer your help and support to the families that need it, we have some suggestions for you.
Here are 10 ways to help families and children in the aftermath of Hurricane Michael:
1. Open your home
Airbnb is making it easy for people in Florida, Alabama and Georgia to offer shelter to either evacuees or out-of-state volunteers. Just sign up for the Open Homes program.
2. Help provide child-focused supplies
We can help families who've been impacted by the hurricane get necessary items like portable cribs, strollers and other gear for babies and kids by donating to Save the Children's Hurricane Michael Children's Relief Fund.
3. Donate to the National Diaper Bank Network through Amazon
Diapers may seem like a small thing, but to parents who need them and don't have them, getting a pack of Pampers would be a huge relief.
A donation to the National Diaper Bank Network can also go a long way toward helping families who desperately need diapers right now. Putting diapers in the hands of parents who need them is as easy as buying a box from the National Diaper Bank Network's Amazon Wish List.
4. Help teachers restock classrooms
The children living in the path of Hurricane Michael didn't just lose their homes, but in many cases, their schools and classrooms were damaged, too. When they get back into those classrooms, they're going to need new books, furniture, classroom supplies, technology, and therapy resources.
We can help teachers restock their classrooms with those supplies lost to the hurricane by donating to the Donors Choose Hurricane Michael fund.
5. Help families rebuild their homes
So many families will need to do major remediation on their homes before moving back in after this hurricane, but accessing the resources to gut a damaged interior or rid a home of mold is difficult for families who have already endured so much.
SBP is a nonprofit dedicated to helping families get back into their homes after disasters like Hurricane Michael, and a can help get people back into their homes and lives faster. Check out SBP's Hurricane Micheal response here.
6. Donate blood
When disasters strike, donating funds is great, but for the people who need it, donating blood is even better. It's easy to make an appointment with the American Red Cross to donate blood to those in need. Your blood could help a family enduring the hardest moment of their lives.
7. Donate through text message
One of the fastest ways to donate to the relief efforts is via text message. Text "DISASTER" to 20222 to donate $10 to volunteerflorida.org. Text "DISASTER25" to up that donation to $25.
8. Protect yourself (and the families you intend to help) from fraud
In almost every town and city across America, churches and community groups are collecting donations to help the victims of Hurricane Michael, but so unfortunately, are scammers. According to the Federal Trade Commission, charity fraud after a hurricane is sadly common.
Make sure the money you're donating goes to the people who really need it by checking prospective charities through Charity Navigator or CharityWatch, and avoid making cash or gift card donations. Reputable charities have online portals for credit card donations, the FTC notes.
Donating your time is another way to help. Some organizations volunteer efforts are already at capacity, but others are still looking for people who can help not just now, but in the weeks and months ahead. Check out this application for Volunteer Florida if you have time to spare.
10. Remember these communities and the families in them
As Volunteer Florida notes in its volunteer application, recovering from this disaster will take the area years.
People need help now, but they will still need help weeks and months into the future. Some of the communities hit by this storm suffer high rates of poverty, and a natural disaster is quickly turning into a financial disaster for many families.
In the weeks to come, Hurricane Michael may fade from the news cycle, but we need to remember and continue to help the families it devastated, because it won't fade from their memories any time soon without our help.
We can all imagine how hard this must be for the parents and children living through it, but we can work hard to help limit the time families have to spend in limbo, between disaster and recovery.