In light of the recent devastation caused by this year’s busy hurricane season, I have received a few questions about Hurricane Relief initiatives. I've therefore decided to write this post entirely about charities, should there be more people out there wanting answers.

Many Caribbean islands (my native Guadeloupe included) have been heavily damaged by one or more hurricanes during this hurricane season. So did part of the USA.

On most occasions I've volunteered for charities, I've found that most volunteers were over 50 years old, so I would love to take the opportunity here to encourage younger ones to give back somehow.

From a young age and thanks to my late mother, I grew accustomed to packing my unused or outgrown clothes (still in good condition), in order for her to give them away to hurricane/storm victims. As an adult, volunteering & donating do bring me a strong feeling of fulfillment and joy. I love knowing that my help has made a lasting & positive impact on someone's life.

I strongly believe that certain challenges are best faced with a few helping hands. Natural disasters and Illnesses are two things that do not discriminate. Each one can affect anyone's life at a moment's notice.

Even though, many people give their time and/or money to charities during a particular season, it doesn't have to be this way (seasonal). Many reputable charities and NGOs do a tremendous job throughout the year, and some, especially the smaller ones, heavily depends on the public and private sector's involvement to fulfill their mission.

Donating or Volunteering?

Depending on your availability and/or financial resources you might not be able to both donate and volunteer. Doing a bit of both, would of course be ideal.

However, at times and depending on the cause, donations don’t always have to be monetary ones. For instance, one can donate some of one's free time to help a charitable cause.

Blood or organs donations are also in need, but those options requires a much more personal/in-depth approach. I am not prepared to give my input on these.

When it comes to offering in kind, many charities collect goods with the goal to distribute to victims: bottled water, canned food, clothes, diapers, hygienic items, Shoes, mattresses,  etc. These types of contributions are usually in high demand for natural disasters victims,  displaced people or refugees.

Donations can also take the form of giving away second-hand items to be resold at a low price to raise funds for a cause.

It's also very common that part of the proceeds from ticket sales for a concert, movie, or even a meal could be going towards a charitable cause.

Appreciated Volunteers
Helping out at a booth

What Other Types of Causes?

Beside Hurricane Relief, there is a wide variety of causes one can choose to support, some of which are below:

  • Displaced families/Refugees
  • Sickness-related causes (Cancer, Lupus, etc.)
  • Orphanages
  • Environmental causes
  • Educational & Empowering programmes
  • Awareness Campaigns
  • Sport Events (eg. Special Olympic or Olympic Games)
  • Animal Welfare
  • Wildlife/Marine Conservation

And the list goes on...

Coastal cleanup volunteering
The last International Coastal Cleanup activity I attended in Trinidad

How To Avoid Scams?

Sadly, there seem to always have people willing to take advantage of certain unfortunate & tragic situations. Scams are rampant and have spreaded throughout this planet. Even though I don’t see them disappearing into thin air anytime soon, there are ways to avoid them.

Many fraudsters would be on the lookout for any opportunity to set anything up in the name of charity. For instance, fake websites and domain names usually appear on the internet within hours or days of a major destructive event.

The best ways to choose a charity while protecting yourself from Scams are as following:

For Existing Charities & NGOs

  • #1. Select which type(s) of cause(s) you would like to volunteer/donate to.
  • #2. Do an Extensive online search on the organization (past projects, reviews, track records, etc.), including website and presence on social networks. Avoid charities which would spend more on its administrative costs than on its mission/projects. A reputable, transparent organization should be willing to share info on its finances (eg. Annual Report).
  • #3. Do not let your emotions force you to skip research on whom you would like to donate to. Do not make any payment/donation before doing your own research (Step #2).
  • #4. Beware of charities who will demand a specific monetary contribution. That amount should only be up to you.
  • #.5 Beware of unsolicited emails and phone calls. Fraudsters could be pretending to be/posing as your friends or family.
  • #6. Choose your method of payment wisely. Use your credit card or write a cheque to the charity (no cheques should be written to individuals) as they are best types of proof, should you need to take legal actions

For New Charities & NGOs

The task of selecting a Charity/NGO becomes much harder when it comes to supporting new charities/organizations. Indeed, they won't have any track records or past projects to vouch for them.

In such case, I believe that doing some background checks on the persons at the head of such organizations are vital.

It is also a plus if such new NGOs are publicly supported by celebrities and public figures,  whom you appreciate.

Of course, you can also rely on your gut feeling too. At times, even well-known organizations or celebrities are involved in questionable (or fraudulent) projects. 

To Donate or Volunteer is an Act of Kindess

Hurricane Relief - Suggestions

As I said before, citizens from various nations outside of the Caribbean have been asking me for suggestions so they can contribute to help the recently devastated Caribbean islands.

I can only  suggest those I know of and would contribute to myself. 

Because I am from Guadeloupe and  have lived in Trinidad and Tobago for over a decade, I would only feel comfortable making these suggestions you see here. 

You can click on these images to be redirected to their respective websites or Facebook page.

 

The Living Water Community

Ansa McAl's Initiative

Initiatives from Trinidad collect funds to help the Leeward Islands.

The exception is One Island, which will send what it has collected to Antigua & Barbuda. I've attended their charity concert 2 days ago and they have done a commendable job gathering performances from most of the local artists on one stage for 12 hours straight.

Donations to the French Red Cross and the Red Cross in Guadeloupe will go towards Guadeloupe's Archipelago, St Bart and Saint Martin.

Donations to CORECA will go to Guadeloupe's Archipelago, St Bart, Saint Martin and Dominica.

Relief efforts will continue for months to come. I am thanking in advance those who can contribute to putting these lovely region back on its feet, even if you choose to support different initiatives than those I suggest.

I also thank those who would now consider support other types of charities.

One Planet, One Human Race!

Red Cross Trinidad & Tobago

Red Cross Guadeloupe

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