“Diapers are good. Piles of clothes? Not so much.
And scammers? Scammers are always bad, so as you follow your heart to help victims of Hurricane Harvey, use your head.
More than 1 million people are ultimately expected to be affected by the hurricane-turned-tropical-storm in Texas and Louisiana. In Houston, where large swaths of the city are submerged, more than 67,000 homes have been declared effectively destroyed.
As Michiganians reach out to help, experts say the most useful things they can have in their hands are checkbooks and credit cards.
“Knowing what we know, experiencing what we have,” said Bob Blumenfeld of the American Red Cross’ Michigan Region, “we can say that financial contributions go further than in-kind contributions.”
“In-kind” refers in the best way to a dozen Kroger employees preparing to rumble south on Friday with food, water, toiletries and a network of supermarkets and warehouses to handle them. In the least effective way, it means the good souls from a local church filling a truck with used clothes that will need to be sorted and stored.
“Food and clothing are well-intentioned,” said Laura Blankenship of the Better Business Bureau office in Southfield, but they’re cumbersome and often premature.
“The people in Texas might need water or paper towels or things to clean with,” she said. “They might not need clothes right now.”
They do need diapers, according to boots-on-the-ground charities like the Texas Diaper Bank in San Antonio. The diaper bank is among dozens of 3- or 4-star-rated nonprofits specifically listed as providing Harvey relief by the rating service CharityNavigator.org — a roster that includes groups as varied as Habitat for Horses and Islamic Relief USA.”
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