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Winter 2020

Disaster Reponse

The elements can be ruthless. Whether it be fire, flood, tsunami, or earthquake, natural disasters have been known to thoroughly destroy the lives and livelihoods of people worldwide. Take the 7.5 earthquake and tsunami of December 2018 in Indonesia, in which more than a thousand people were injured, more than ten thousand people were displaced, and hundreds of homes and businesses were destroyed. When natural disasters ravage communities, many people want to know how to help, but the disaster seems so large, they feel limited by their own resources, the distance, and other factors. Here is a break-down of the various ways you can act in response to natural disasters.

Red Cross & Other Disaster-Relief Organizations

Photo by Henry’s KitchenOne big name that shows up in the wake of every crisis is the Red Cross. When it comes to Red Cross, you can do more than just donate blood or cash. The Red Cross offers opportunities to help with volunteer recruitment and organization, educate communities on prepared disaster response, and spread the word of the Red Cross’s mission. If you are able, you can also join Disaster Services and the Disaster Action Teams that deliver humanitarian supplies and aid to disaster victims. Check out the Red Cross’s website for more details. Other organizations you might investigate include NVOAD, Salvation Army, and Helping Hand. There are so many disaster relief organizations looking for more help. A short internet search is all it takes to find one nearby that you can work with. Don’t let the enormity of any disaster stop you, great volunteer organizations are already in place.


photo by Sticker Giant Custom StickersGet to know your local humanitarian organizations, churches, homeless centers, soup kitchens, and so forth. In the wake of a natural disaster, or in the everyday grind of the poor, these organizations are sure to have available projects. Just a few hours of volunteer work can make a difference. Remember that while there is need overseas, there are probably people in your own town who need your help. What begins as a short foray into the world of humanitarian volunteering could become the most rewarding habit you’ve ever acquired.

Volunteer Abroad Programs

Maybe you’ve done Disneyland before and you are ready for a trip that is more about giving than receiving. There are programs set up by professionals that can take you to the most disaster-ridden places in the world and organize you with other volunteers to bring relief to the beleaguered. Again, there are a variety of programs and opportunities, so don’t assume you don’t have enough time or funds.


Even if those options don’t work out, you can raise funds and spread awareness of disaster relief all by yourself. The ideas range from lemonade stands, to bracelets, to charity dinners. Whatever your trade or organizational skills are, you can contribute.

Chances are, there are those in your community who will want to help and donate with you. Check with your local schools, community centers, and businesses to see what you can do together to bring relief to those in need. Remember, no small act of kindness was ever wasted. Additionally, you’ll find that taking the initiative to organize your own community fundraiser will bring greater life and unity to your neighborhood.

—Jamie Mortensen