Hurricane Sandy hit the Northeast on October 29th – right before the holidays, when many of us seek non-commercial, non-materialistic ways to show our love for family and friends. Meanwhile, hundreds in New Jersey and New York lost their homes and, in some cases, all their belongings due to wind, fire and floods - and they struggle still.
Sure, we can give each other more things that we may or may not really be able to use and ultimately could end up throwing away. But wouldn’t it be better to skip the stuff and give friends and family a gift to a helpful charity in their name?
Here's what you can give to support Sandy relief, though these ideas can work for charities that are right in your own backyard, too.
CLOTHES, TOYS, HOUSEHOLD ITEMS
To donate clothes, toys and household items to victims of Hurricane Sandy, first visit Charity Navigator. Here you will find a list of the most highly rated charities participating in relief work in the three states affected by the super storm. Organizations range from the Community Food Bank of New Jersey to K.I.D.S. – Kids in Distressed Situations, a non-profit that assists in relief efforts following major natural disasters. You’ll also find groups like New York Cares, which mobilizes volunteers to help fellow New Yorkers when they’re down and out.
I’ve personally donated to the Robin Hood Fund, a terrific non-profit that has been providing food, shelter and clean-up services to thousands of people in New York, New Jersey and Connecticut who were devastated by the storm. You can donate any amount on the organization’s website; if you do so as a gift to a friend or family member, the Fund will send that person an email card you can personalize, acknowledging the contribution in their honor. It takes about 5 minutes tops to make the donation.
If you have a friend or relative whose heartstrings get easily pulled by a forlorn cat or dog, give them a gift of supporting the organizations that are helping to feed and shelter the thousands of pets that were lost or abandoned after Sandy struck. Best Friends Animals Society, for example,is busy distributing donated food, kitty litter, and other supplies to pet owners, and building community cat shelters to help protect the many cats that became homeless after the storm.
If you’re more concerned about Nemo and other fishy critters, consider helping the New York Aquarium. Like pretty much the rest of the Coney Island boardwalk where it’s located, the aquarium complex was severely flooded, according to the Wildlife Conservation Society, which runs it. Your donations to the society will support its effort to restore utilities and life-support systems for the exhibits and holding tanks and evacuate fish and marine mammals as necessary.
The natural habitat suffered, too. Yes, there was extreme devastation to homes, offices, and shops. But what about the trees? It’s estimated that 10,000 trees were lost in New York City alone! That’s on top of the 113,000 trees reportedly downed in New Jersey. Donations to Friends of the Hudson River Park, Central Park Conservancy, New York Botanical Garden and these other non-profits devoted to maintaining the natural landscape will support their efforts to replant, though replacing hundred-year-old oaks and elms will be challenging.
Please take a minute to share other non-materialistic ideas you have for celebrating the holidays this year. Thanks, and best wishes for a very happy, healthy holiday season.
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