When disasters like Hurricanes Harvey and Irma reign, your natural instincts kick in and you want to rush to help those impacted by the devastation. You come to the aid of those in need, you host fundraisers, you rally your friends around the dinner table and talk about how you can solve problems. You’re a volunteer.
Unfortunately, volunteers often run in blind, not really knowing what the community needs most. Hint: making a donation to a nonprofit on the front lines is the most helpful thing you can do. It takes time for the pros involved to assess the situation and flush out details for a recovery plan. It’s then when volunteers are needed most. When they can be managed and put to work on the most urgent matters.
Our friends at VolunteerHouston have done this and are now ready to help recovery for Harvey, but please, be patient with Irma. DO NOT self-deploy. Please, don't blindly run into the chaos. Yes, sign up, stay involved, stay alert, but the damage is still very much in the assessment process. While you wait, get trained on becoming a disaster volunteer with the Red Cross or through the Georgia Center for Nonprofits and Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster (VOAD).
We know you want to help and you’re chomping at the bit to get moving. So, here are 5 things you can do to help with relief efforts from right here in Atlanta:
1. Volunteer with Feeding Children Everywhere
All weekend long, the Georgia World Congress Center will be rockin’ as volunteers help package 1.2 million meal kits for hurricane relief. There will be great music, good fun, and an awesome volunteer experience. Ages 6 and up welcome, and there’s virtually no limit to the amount of volunteers they can take.
2. Volunteer with Open Hand
Volunteers are needed to help pack emergency boxes into bags for stocking food.
3. Attend Atlanta Humane Society’s Bark ‘n Brew
This is a fundraiser (and good time) at SweetWater Brewery on Saturday, from 7:00 p.m. -10:00 p.m. to help save those furry family members who’ve been left behind, relocated, or just need help.
4. Run for Relief with Atlanta Track Club
The Atlanta Track Club will donate $1 for every mile a participant registers to run or walk in three of the Club’s premier events: the Publix Georgia Marathon & Half Marathon, Thanksgiving Day Half Marathon & 5K, and PNC Atlanta 10 Miler & 5K. So if you run 26.2 miles (marathon), $26.20 will be donated to the American Red Cross.
5. Sign up to Volunteer with Hands On Atlanta
Nonprofits and schools are called upon to help most when putting the pieces of a disaster back together. Volunteering with Hands On Atlanta puts you in front of our partner network to help them fulfill their missions 365 days a year.
For more ways to help and for the latest news on relief efforts, check out what Points of Light and their team is doing to help.