A Caution on the Desire to Help

by Melissa Brunner

We see the pictures and we just want to help. Almost immediately after storms tore through Reading Saturday night, we heard of various groups organizing drives to collect donations of various items for the storm victims.

That's great - but before you start filling trailers with loads of goods, make a phone call. I spoke with the Adjutant General's office, and they say the problem with all of those items pouring in is that they have to be stored somewhere. Right now, people who have no home or are staying in shelters or with relatives have no where to place belongings either. Cash is best, they say, because then supplies may be purchased as they're needed and able to be immediately distributed.

There are some items that are needed - and there may be a time when the food, clothing and other items are needed, too. To find out, call the United Way's 211 number. It is coordinating the efforts of donors and volunteers and will have the most up-to-date list of the items requested. If you want to collect items, do it in conjunction with an organization like the Red Cross to ensure those items have a place to go once you take them in. Or do a cash donation drive instead.

Make no mistake, the efforts are appreciated and no one wants to appear ungrateful, they just want to be sure your kindness doesn't go to waste.

Footnote: After I posted this blog Tuesday morning, we received this email from Shawnee Co. Emergency Mgt. Dir. Dave Sterbenz, forwarded from FEMA's regional office:

Hello RVII Partners -


Can you help us spread the word regarding unsolicited donations? Joplin is OVERWHELMED with unsolicited donations, and in dire need of messaging to discourage folks from sending unsolicited donations! As emergency management professions, we know the secondary disaster this can create, and redirect valuable life sustaining resources to sort, package, transport, warehouse, and distribute items that may not meet the needs of disaster survivors.



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