Every day in this country, people need help.
From victims of fire and other unforeseen circumstances to victims of natural disasters, there’s always someone that can use that bag of clothes you have stuffed in your closet or that generous donation you want to give.
Just recently, Louisiana was met with record and widespread flooding that displaced thousands of people. Some of my friends on Facebook were victims themselves. Some can’t even begin to imagine how long it will take to rebuild, but all are grateful for any help.
I’m a huge advocate for giving back, regardless of the situation. I want my kids to have that same desire, as well. So, we gathered up some things to give and sent them with a friend who was making donations in Louisiana.
I trust her, and I know my donations of diapers, baby clothing, and more went to people who actually need them.
If you’re asking yourself, “How can I help others?,” then you probably have dozens of other questions, too. You may wonder what items are good to donate, how you’ll know your donations are going to the right people, and how you can get your kids involved in helping others, too.
I’m here to answer some of those questions. After all, helping others should be — and is — easy!
I love teaching my kids to help others. Check out more of my tips for teaching kids about charity during the holidays!
Question #1: What should I give?
I typically answer this question with another question: “What do you use on a daily basis?”
Toiletries are a must, including feminine care products, toothpaste, toothbrushes, deodorant, shampoo, and so on. If you use it in your daily care routine, someone else will need it.
As for clothing, socks, shoes, underwear, bras, shirts, shorts, and anything else you can think of, including work attire, are great choices.
If you have these items in your closet and they’re gently used, stain- and damage-free, and people can wear them with dignity, they are needed. The only thing I donate new is underwear!
Photo by Ken Durden
Don’t forget first aid items, too. Bug spray, bandages, sunscreen, and over-the-counter medications will be greatly appreciated. Think of these people digging through wet and soggy items in the Louisiana heat! They need protection from annoyances like bugs and sunburn as they try to rebuild.
And don’t forget anything baby related is also needed! That means diapers, diapers, diapers, and also diaper cream, baby shampoo, blankets, and pacifiers. Also, bottles, baby socks, lotion, and anything else you can think of that you would need for your own baby is a great donation idea.
Money. Yes, there are government agencies that help with natural disasters, but everything costs money. From the intensive and expansive rescue efforts to months from now when people are putting their lives back together and can’t even afford a couch.
Financial donations to the right group are a huge help and the fastest way to help if you’re far from the affected area. Of course, monetary donations lead to even more questions!
Question #2: How do I donate?
This can be a tricky question. I had a trusted source driving a state away to hand-deliver items, so I was lucky.
But what if you want to donate money or don’t have anyone going to the affected area? If you do donate, how do you know it’s actually going to the place that needs it most and not into the pocket of those running the donation line?
One way to find a reputable charity is to start with the names of relief organizations you see on TV during coverage of natural disasters.
Photo by littleny
The Red Cross is my No. 1 source when I want to donate funds or items that need to be taken to the area. You can find your local chapter here and learn more about what options they offer for giving back to those in need.
If you want to find other organizations helping out during a specific crisis or natural disaster, check out InterAction to find multiple trusted organizations. You can also see other areas of the world that need help through their Crisis List.
If you still want to check a charity out for authenticity, you can look it up on Charity Watch. They rate each charity on a scale of A+ to F, and ratings take into consideration how much of a charity’s total expenses go to charitable programs versus overhead and how much it costs the charity to raise $100.
Question #3: How can I help others & get my kids involved?
Since my kids were teeny tiny, I have tried to instill the power of giving. We donate things several times a year, and I tell them giving is the most amazing thing you can do for another human being.
Getting my kids to donate now isn’t difficult, but it took the creative side of me to teach them that it was a good thing! Here are some ways I got them involved:
1. Make it a game.
I put a box in each child’s room and challenged them to see who could fill their box with the most items they wanted to donate.
These items could be anything at all: That dress hanging in the closet with a tag that they’ve never worn in a year, that toy that they loved to play with three years ago, those shoes they outgrew in a week. Anything they could find that was in good condition and wanted to give to others went in the box.
2. Take them with you to donate.
Kids are visual learners so taking them to donate with you can really drive the point home!
3. Positive reinforcement.
I often put my pictures of my kids donating online and then I show them how many people respond to it. That positive reinforcement makes them want to donate more. I love that for them!
If you don’t like sharing photos of your children online, you can also quietly let relatives and family friends know how they’ve donated to people in need. A comment and praise from people they know can make them extra proud of what they’ve done!