Please look this over before you donate clothes and other items.
“After the devastating Valley and Rocky fires, I spent weeks working in the evacuation centers. Mainly, I assisted in sorting and separating the mountain of donated clothes and supplies. I was overwhelmed by the people I met and their stories but also in the amazing generosity of strangers.
But…in the coming days and weeks, as you consider helping and begin to sort through things you’d like to donate, stop and truly look at what you are giving. If it is new or ‘lightly used,’ please give it to those who need it.
If it is torn, missing buttons, stained, tattered or smells like cat pee (yes, I sorted through several bags), please do not add to the misery of this disaster by offloading your less than desirable belongings to those in need.
In a matter of minutes, many people lost everything today. Everything.
Clothes, shoes, warm coats, sports equipment (yes, cleats matter to kids who just want normal), school supplies, tools, gift cards, hotel vouchers are all needed. If you donate shoes, tie the laces or rubber band them together. If you give a belt or accessories, put them in a ziplock. Label the bags with a Sharpie. Separate your donations into smaller bags or boxes, label the boxes. (Toddler clothes and shoes, sizes 2T-4T, Women’s Work Clothes, sizes 8/10/12, Men’s Casual Clothes, sizes XL and Pants sizes 36-38, etc.). This will help more than you know.
In the coming weeks and months, people will need your help. These fires have stolen homes, cars, belongings, places of employment (which means that people have lost jobs too), hopes, dreams, memories. Now is the time to open up our hearts, homes, and wallets.
And, as someone who lost everything once in a fire, sometimes it’s the little things that really matter. A phone call, a shared meal, unexpected bags of groceries or even a memory album. Go through pictures, put together photo albums for your friends. You don’t have to give it to them yet, but when you do, it can bring so much peace.
Once donation pages are announced, consider keeping the funds local. Look to the local churches, charities, and credit unions that will be setting up and managing funds.
Volunteer. Serve meals, help sort donations, read to kids. If you are qualified, help people with legal and financial advice. Go to fundraisers, bid on auction items, support our communities by being an active member. It’s so easy to be wrapped up in our own worries, fears, and lives. Now is the time to help others. Please help in any way you can.”
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