More things you can do to help

Another Update!

Still itching for other places you can donate to, still wondering what you can do to help? Monica Jackson has compiled a marvy list of shelters and organizations who need all the help they can get. Check it out.

I e-mailed the HR manager this morning. He digs the idea of a dry goods donation center being set up here and the company footing the shipping bill. He’s forwarding the info to the President. My fingers are crossed that they’ll do the right thing.

Update!

Just talked to the nicest freakin’ man from the Baton Rouge Salvation Army distribution center a couple of minutes ago, asked him what they need, and he just said “Everything and all of the above.” In very high demand are socks, underwear, children’s clothing and towels. He said they’re accepting just about anything and everything right now and by any means—mail, truck, whatever.

I had to keep the conversation short and sweet because I was afraid I was going to start bawling any second.

I encourage y’all to call and find out what they need, too. See Darlene’s comment. The numbers to call are right under the addresses.

*****

Credit goes to Beth and Doug for the following addresses. OK, real credit goes to the ever-fabulous Laura Kinsale, because Beth quoted her post on her blog.

Several types of goods are desperately needed, and as Doug and Beth noted, it feels like you’re helping more when you’re able to pack actual STUFF and send it along.

So hear ye, hear ye, shit like towels, underwear, tampons and pads (they call ‘em “feminine hygiene products” but I think tampons sounds funnier—and really, who needs douche in a time like this?), toothbrushes, toothpaste, diapers, baby formula, soap and the like are needed muchly. Send ‘em along to:

Katrina Disaster Relief
Salvation Army
7361 Airline Highway
Baton Rouge, LA 70805
(225) 355-4483

Or:

Ferrara Fire Apparatus
27855 James Chapel Rd.
Holden LA 70744
225-567-7100

(To clarify: Items sent to Ferrara will go towards firefighters and rescue workers, whereas supplies sent to the Salvation Army address will probably go towards the evacuees.)

I’m wondering if the people would appreciate a book or two as well. What do you guys think? Should I throw in some paperbacks in there, too? Or am I one of the few freaks who considers reading material a necessity of life? Eh, I think I’ll throw in a few books. It can’t hurt, and if someone, somewhere gets to escape the shittiness for a couple of hours, that would rock.

Man, wouldn’t it be cool if the USPS provided free shipping for Katrina donations headed to the affected areas? Just a random thought.

And Kate provided a link to these funny-ass people who seem to be doing their damndest to ferry goods to the people affected. Give if you can. Like Kate said, even if they’re Nigerian scammers, they’re worth paying for.

Edit! Edit!

OK, just had another idea that kind of sprang from the idea about free shipping:

If your company hasn’t instituted some kind of donation drive, ask them if they’re willing to help pay for shipping for care packages to Katrina evacuees. If your company has a sizeable shipping department like mine does—we’re a manufacturing facility and all—they probably have pretty close ties to several different shipping companies and may come up with some kind of arrangement with them. My company hasn’t solicited donations yet, but they have in the past (9/11, Boxing Day Tsunami), and I’ll e-mail the HR department tomorrow and see what they think about the shipping idea and/or allowing people to use payroll deduction to donate money for Katrina funds.

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  1. 1
    Beth says:

    Oh YAY! Everybody send stuff. SEND STUFF.

    And Candy, if you’re a freak then we must be separated-at-birth freaks, because that was the first thing I thought too. I was like “Okay, socks and towels will keep any books from rattling around…” I’m throwing in a couple, because I KNOW we’re not the only people who go nuts if left too long without reading material.

    And look! Laura just explained more about the socks and things on my blog, where she got the info that it’s all needed. Gah, that chokes me up, how the lady at the checkout helped.

    Anyway, yeah – everybody give some stuff, okay? Okay.

  2. 2
    AngieW says:

    Someone somewhere- I don’t remember where- pointed out that there are many people who will be spending extended time in a shelter and that they will need things like books and magazines to help spend the time there. So books are a very legitimate thing to send. After all, the money is going to need to be spent on necessities. If we dont’ send books, there won’t be books :( And a life without books… *sniffle*

  3. 3
    Candy says:

    OK, just got back from le Target. Hooray for books and book fiends! And really, if nuts like us weren’t sending books, I don’t think too many shelters are going to spend precious bucks on them because they need them more for immediate necessities.

    And because I’m such a nosey friggin’ parker, what books are y’all sending along with the care packages?

    I’m sending:

    - Charlie and the Chocolate Factory by Roald Dahl
    – Blubber by Judy Blume
    – The Bourne Identity by Robert Ludlum (remembered reading this ages back and enjoying it)
    – Divine Evil by Nora Roberts (never read it, never will, but loads o’ people love Nora)
    – My entire collection of Jennifer Crusie reprints, because I have the original editions already and hell, I can always replace the reprints because they don’t look like they’re going out of print any time soon. Plus: Jennifer Crusie books cheer me up like very few other things can, and I’m hoping these have the same salubrious effect on other people.
    – A Ray Bradbury short story collection whose title escapes me right now.

  4. 4
    Doug Hoffman says:

    I picked up two six-packs of pedialyte, too. Diarrhea is a huge threat to these people.

    On a different note: I just spent the last half hour looking for funny science fiction book covers so that I could try to do like you guys (and bam) do. And, damn, what is it? Are romance novel covers intrinsically a hoot, or is your job just a hell of a lot more difficult than I thought? I couldn’t even find any covers with preposterously phallic rockets on ‘em, and I know those exist, I grew up with those stories!

    Back to plan B for my blog.

  5. 5
    Candy says:

    Oooh! Pedialyte! Trust the doctor to think of that.

    But wait: I’m nervous about those bottles busting open and soaking everything in transit. Do they make it in powdered form? (Yes, I’m that clueless. Humor me, please.) If they do, I’ll toddle off to Walgreen’s down the street and buy a few cans.

  6. 6
    Christina in Houston says:

    Plus size clothing is also needed.  For both man and women.

  7. 7
    Candy says:

    p.s. Just in case it’s not entirely clear and y’all are thinking “What the fuck is wrong with Candy and why is she sending only books to Katrina evacuees?”: I’m sending other things besides books. But I’m curious primarily about the book titles and not so much necessities because I’m assuming we’re sending a lot of similar things, like soap, socks, towels, toothpaste, tampons, etc.

  8. 8
    Amy E says:

    I just got home from working at the Austin Red Cross shelter Saturday and Sunday, about 13 hours each day.  (And damn, do my feet ever fucking HURT.)  So I can give you an idea about what’s needed at shelters, if you’d like to also donate closer to home.  This is, of course, assuming what we’re getting from people here is pretty typical.

    Yes, books, book, please send books!  I spent a couple of hours yesterday handing out magazines.  People didn’t care that some of them were from 2001.  They wanted to READ something.  Can you get some large print books, too?  I never was able to find one single large print bible at either of the shelters I was at.  Surely some bookstore could donate a cartload of those.  People want ‘em bad.  In lieu of that, magnifying glasses, the type you’d use if you were blind in one eye and couldn’t see out of the other and wanted to read?  Yeah, those.  That would be helpful.

    Purses, and wallets for men and women.  People are getting their clothes replaced, and every one of the evacuees I dealt with threw their old clothes away.  We had no clothing shortage.  Still, they got clean bodies and clean clothes and clean beds, yet whenever they wanted to pull out ID or a grandkid’s pic, their wallet and purse stunk of New Orleans.  We didn’t get many of those donated and getting people away from the infection risk, not to mention the memories that scent evokes, is huge.

    Men’s shoes.  Women and kids we got in loads, but not so much men’s.  Anything is good, but maybe Teva-style sandals could be better?  More adjustable so you could fudge it a little if we didn’t have the size they needed.

    Nail clippers.  Other toiletries seemed to be under control.

    And that’s what our shelter needed, as far as materials went.  We were swimming in volunteers this weekend, which was just awesome, but people are going back to work tomorrow and they’re really nervous they won’t have enough people to work.  If you can, please, please find a shelter and volunteer.  I don’t care if you don’t think you have a needed skill.  You do.  If you have two hands and are willing to haul ass to get shit for a doctor or a nurse, we had a job for you.  If you were willing to hold the hand of someone who was confused and scared, we had a use for you.  If you can hand out bottles of water and juice, or slap food on a plate, or make a bed, or play with a kid… you get the idea. 

    Go.  Do it.  It feels good even when it hurts, physically or emotionally.  You never know if someday YOU might be the one on the cot, needing someone. 

  9. 9
    Candy says:

    Ooooh, thanks, Amy! Excellent suggestions.

  10. 10
    Laura Kinsale says:

    And just to clarify—the Ferrar Fire Apparatus address is for rescue and firefighters, and on the requested list are socks, underwear, t-shirts and towels.  This isn’t to say they don’t want tampons, but they didn’t specifically ask for them. ;p

    LK

    P.S.  Though I’m sure a small care package of goodies would probably be appreciated, just mark on the box clearly that’s what it is.

  11. 11
    Candy says:

    Thanks for the clarification, Laura.

  12. 12
    Melissa in exile says:

    SEND BOOKS!  One of the first things I did, after I realized I couldn’t go home anytime soon, was go out and buy the books that I preordered from Amazon that the bastards shipped early.  Now they will be forever lost in transit!!!  It is wonderful to be able to do something other than obsessively look at the news and internet!  So far I am lucky.  Home survived the storm and flood, and I’ve heard that looters don’t read.  The books were one of the few things left at the looted Wal-mart.  My TBR pile (more like bookshelf) should still be there!!!

  13. 13

    I don’t want to be a spoilsport, but I remember after Hurricane Andrew we all sent stuff down to south Florida and it ended up rotting in huge piles of trash.  Please, before you send clothes or other items for hurricane relief, make sure the agency you’re sending it to wants these items, and that means confirmation from the agency, not second hand information from a blog or website.

    Again, I’m not trying to dampen anyone’s enthusiasm, but as a Floridian I clearly remember what a mess it was the last time this happened.  Agencies that help people said that with the exception of blood donations, they wanted money, and only money, because then they could prioritize their spending and make sure it was properly allocated.

  14. 14
    Candy says:

    Thanks for the reality check, Darlene.

  15. 15
    Melissa in exile says:

    Just a FYI – Ferrar is a wonderful company that donated a fire truck to NY after 911.  They will get items to the fire fighters.  Those men and women have been working around the clock since this started.

  16. 16
    Laura Kinsale says:

    While I don’t disagree, Darlene, right now the situation is so dire (this according to people I’ve spoken to on the ground) that I don’t think things are going to be thrown in the trash in the near future.  I thought about this aspect a good deal, and wrote a bit about it over in a comment on Beth’s blog. 

    It’s definitely good to get as much info as possible first.  A certain percentage of what people donate is basically trash when it’s donated.  However, if people do some research and send new and requested items, I don’t think there’s too much worry about it getting used by someone who needs it.

    This has simply overwhelmed the usual organizational process, and will go on longer than any hurricane aftermath we’ve ever seen.  A lot of people are right now without things they need, even though there’s a lot of money being donated.  I don’t fault this at all, but a check is not a pair of socks or a book to read—it takes time for that conversion to take place.  Sometimes it just takes people stepping in personally to fill a gap like that.

  17. 17
    Heather Foeh says:

    Hi all -
    I wanted to let you know about a homegrown relief effort I’ve been working on. It’s called Blankets For the Gulf (http://www.BlanketsForTheGulf.com). My goal is to collect 5,000 handmade blankets by December 1st. My thought is that by December it will be starting to get cold in the south. In addition, it will be a lovely time for people to get a “gift”—that’s where the handmade part comes in. I know that people will be receiving blankets from shelters, but I want them to have something special that lets them know that others in the U.S. are thinking of them. My family will be hand-delivering these blankets over the Christmas holidays – I’m taking suggestions of locations now (submit on my site).
    Thanks all!

  18. 18
    Kate R says:

    yeah, this is way different from 9/11!

    BTW, I just got a great thank you letter from the ladies at http://blondesense.blogspot.com/(I’m sending paypal money every which way)

    “As you probably already know, we did a huge buy & drop last night (Second
    Harvest Food Bank of New Orleans truck caravan), of over $1,200 worth of
    food, first aid, baby food, etc.

    As soon as PayPal & my bank get their shit straight, we are going to be
    doing it again and again and again, as well as bringing supplies to several
    of the many shelters around this area, who have been INUNDATED with
    hurricane victims.  We’re also getting together supplies for the LSU Vet
    School, who are sheltering & treating so many abandoned/orphaned animals, as
    well as the animals of folks who are stuck in shelters and can’t keep them.

    And none of it would be possible without people like you.

    And believe me, after the week I’ve had, if the liquor store had been open
    tonight, I’d be typing through JD goggles, honey!

    When this is all over, I am fully prepared to take a three-week sabbatical,living on frozen pizza, Sara Lee Cheesecake, and Coca-Cola & JD.  I might even let the boyfriend hang out here some.

    Thank you again and again and again!

    About the books—- I wouldn’t send them yet.  Yes, people are bored titless in the shelters, but the Red Cross SURELY isn’t equipped ormentally capable of disseminating books, and you would have to find somebody locally who can give them out properly.  I would volunteer to do it, I’m a bibliophile of the first order, but I’m tit-deep in Wally World as it is.  But google the subject, and lemme know if you find anything.”

    I mentioned that I would give them money even if they turned out to be Nigerian lottery attorneys and she answered:
    “This week, with all of the increased e-mail traffic I’ve been doing, I’ve
    gotten bank-fraud spam from Nigeria, Mexico, Honduras, and (purportedly)
    London, but it was actually from California.

    Those cocksuckers leap onto a tragedy faster than Karl Turdblossom Succubus
    Rove.”

    (I just liked the Karl Rove thing. Not that we should be name-calling at this terrible time. Nossiree.)

  19. 19

    Laura—if you’ve got on the ground confirmation that these folks want items donated, that’s good enough for me.  What I remember from last time is donating clothing, books, household goods, etc. that turned into landfill without ever reaching the people it was intended to help.  Trucks would dump donated items on the street in Miami and Homestead, and it wouldn’t get to where it was needed, while legitimate aid agencies were desperate for cash to purchase water, toiletries, bedding and more. 

    I’m not saying don’t donate, just do as much due diligence as you can to make sure the agency you believe your assistance is going to wants that assistance in the form of goods.

  20. 20

    Thanks for the update, Candy.  Getting confirmation from folks at the site is exactly what I’m talking about, and I love your idea of getting our companies to help underwrite the cost of shipping.  Good work!

  21. 21
    Amy E says:

    I can tell you from the shelter side, they WANT the donations.  All this stuff.  I’d say, send it to shelters, wherever you want.  Like the blogger Kate quoted said, many of them are just swimming with evacuees and overwhelmed.  They NEED that shit.

    Red Cross, Salvation Army, and Catholic Charities do better with cash money.  They’ve got connections that can get more socks, water, tampons or whatever for a buck than any regular consumer. 

    That’s what we’re being told here.  Stuff to shelters (and if you carry it inside and then stick around to help out for a few hours, that’s even better) and dough to charities.

  22. 22
    Lynn M says:

    Thank you so much for this information!! I’ve been desperate to find out where I might send children’s and baby clothing and books. I checked the websites of the big guys – ARC, Catholic Charities, Salvation Army – and they all said to only send money. But what you all are saying makes sense; that if you send directly to the shelters it will get used. I’d prefer they use the cash for things like food and medicines and water if they get donations of good clothing.

    And who will ever think to spend donation money on books? I have a bunch of kids books just getting dusty and now they can have a good home!

  23. 23
    Doug Hoffman says:

    Re: pedialyte. I packed it into the middle of my otherwise soft care package (socks ‘n’ maxi pads, oh boy!) I’m not sure it comes in powdered form, but I wanted to keep it simple, too. You also have to worry about the local water supply. Even if it’s fine for the locals, I wonder about the possibility of traveler’s diarrhea.

    Keep up the drum beat, folks!

    doug

  24. 24

    My mom has made a sort of hobbie of sending similar care packages to random soldiers Iraq (she’ll be very happy to hear about this) and she always includes a book and some candy that won’t go bad (like peppermints or Life Savers—thought he irony of that might be bad) and from the letters she gets they are always very grateful for necessities and REALLY extra happy for the books.  Soldiers are people in a bad situation, disaster refugees are also people in a bad situation, so I assume they’d like books too.  I know if it was me, I be desperate for something to read, to escape the horror for a least a little while.

  25. 25
    Beth says:

    Candy – I don’t know what books I’ll send. I culled a whole bunch that I didn’t want to keep a while ago, so I have a very big box of them I can send. It’s a wide variety, and romance novels are definitely in the mix.

    I’ll make a sign with this info and tape it up down in the lobby of my apartment building, then take it to work and spread the news there. As a few people here have noted, I really haven’t seen anywhere calling for any non-cash donations, so I feel obligated to spread the word. Hope everyone does the same!

  26. 26
    Amy E says:

    Pedialyte does come in a powder form, but I’ve only seen it at hospitals.  You might try asking your local pharmacy?  (Just not Walgreens.)

    What about sending powdered Powerade or other electrolyte-replinishing drinks like that?

  27. 27

    Thanks for the info. I’m just about to go through the six year-old’s wardrobe and hoe out the too small stuff, I was hoping I could send it somewhere where it would be useful. And I’ve got kids’ books too, stuff my son sniffs at as being too young for him now. Yay, the mean ladies at Goodwill will have to be mean to someone else this week!

  28. 28
    Chelicera says:

    Disaster relief is getting a lot of attention right now but after several months it may receive little media coverage.  I’m going to try to remember to make a donation 6 months from now.  The problems will continue for a long time but people get “donor-fatigue” after a while and stop contributing.

    Karen (Doug’s infamous tarantula-loving wife)

  29. 29

    Free shipping is a great idea!

  30. 30

    Chelicera—consider donating or becoming involved with Habitat for Humanity down the road.  They do good work building homes, and an item on the radio today said rebuilding in the Gulf region will be their priority for the coming year.  And it’s not just a church group—Habitat works with volunteers from all backgrounds, and builds for everyone.

    This is the kind of long term project that’s going to need womanhours and donations for years, not just weeks.

    BTW, if you do any home remodeling and have usable fixtures, sometimes Habitat can use that as well.  When we redid our bathroom they took the old sinks, cabinets and tub.  Much better than sending it to the landfill.

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