Come Together, Fairfax County

In my neighborhood in north Reston, we have a block party every Labor Day. That's the last day of summer before the kids go back to school.
At Monday's block party. we are asking all of our neighbors to chip in some money to send to the Red Cross to help the Hurricane Katrina victims. This is the same spirit and unity of purpose we showed following the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.
Remember how Fairfax County banded together then? The candlelight vigils, the flags on houses, the special church services? Katrina is a disaster that calls for a similar response. Consider ways your neighborhood can help the victims. Post some of your ideas at FairfaxFocus.

Meantime, this helpful e-mail just came in from Volunteer Fairfax:
Volunteer Fairfax has gotten a large number of requests for what people can do to contribute to the relief efforts for Hurricane Katrina. Please take a moment to view the below information.
Thank you,
Emily Swenson
Director of Programs

Hurricane Katrina- How to Help the Victims
Volunteer Florida learned some important lessons after their years of dealing with Mother Nature's Wrath. Here are some suggestions and tips for helping where it is needed most.

Financial Contributions are Preferred:
Cash donations help to avoid the labor and expense of sorting, packing, transporting and distributing donated goods, and relief agencies can use cash to meet hurricane victims' specific needs more quickly.

Donate through an Experienced Disaster Relief Organization:
Relief agencies prefer the versatility of cash donations; however, some have the infrastructure in place to store and distribute donated goods. To prevent waste, donations of goods should be made only to agencies that have requested specific items.

Confirm the Need before Collecting:
Donors should be wary of anyone who claims that "everything is needed." Many groups have been disappointed that their efforts and the goods they collected were not appreciated. A community hit by a disaster, however does not have the time, manpower or money to dispose of unneeded donations. Get precise information and confirm the need before collecting any donated goods.

Volunteer Wisely to Help Others:
In a community struggling to respond to and recover from a disaster, an influx of unexpected or unneeded volunteers and donations can make the process even more difficult. Before traveling to the disaster area to help, learn where and when your skills will be needed. Discuss with volunteer organizations how your needs for food, water and shelter will be met while you are volunteering.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has posted a listing of volunteer organizations that are currently responding to the disaster. These include:

Donate cash
American Red Cross (800) HELP NOW (435-7669) English; (800) 257-7575 Spanish
Operation Blessing (800) 436-6348
America's Second Harvest (800) 344-8070

To donate cash or volunteer
Adventist Community Services (800) 381-7171
Catholic Charities, USA (800) 919-9338
Christian Disaster Response (941) 956-5183 or (941) 551-9554
Christian Reformed World Relief Committee (800) 848-5818
Church World Service (800) 297-1516
Convoy of Hope (417) 823-8998
Lutheran Disaster Response (800) 638-3522
Mennonite Disaster Service (717) 859-2210
Nazarene Disaster Response (888) 256-5886
Presbyterian Disaster Assistance (800) 872-3283
Salvation Army (800) SAL-ARMY (725-2769)
Southern Baptist Convention -- Disaster Relief (800) 462-8657, ext. 6133
United Methodist Committee on Relief (800) 554-8583

By Steve Fehr |  September 1, 2005; 2:56 PM ET  | Category:  Misc.
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