With relief efforts expected to stretch on for years in the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey, there are a number of options for people wanting to help through donations of money, materials or time.
Locally, Mechanicsburg-based Mission Central has been preparing cleaning buckets and hygiene kits to be shipped to the Houston area.
Cleaning buckets help people begin to clean up after the flood and include liquid laundry detergent, liquid household cleaner, dish soap, air freshener, personal insect repellant spray, hand-held scrub brush, cleaning wipes, sponges, scouring pads, clothespins, clothesline, heavy duty trash bags, dust masks, disposable kitchen gloves and work gloves.
Hygiene kits provide basic necessities for people who have been forced to leave their homes and include hand towels, wash cloth, comb, metal nail file or clipper, bath size soap, toothbrush, adhesive bandages and a plastic bag.
All items for both kits must be new except for the actual bucket and lid. Instructions for the assembly of both types of kits may be found on the organization’s website at missioncentral.org. That is also where monetary donations may be made to assist with relief efforts.
Volunteers are also needed to help pack the buckets for shipment to the Houston area. Those interested in volunteering should call Mission Central at 717-766-1533.
JLG Industries in Shippensburg will collect items for flood victims at its facility at 560 Walnut Bottom Road from 6 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Sept. 7. The JLG facility will be staffed with employee volunteers, and signs will be posted to direct visitors to the appropriate area. Additionally, JLG will have a donation drop-off area for employees from Sept. 4 to Sept. 11.
Needed items include personal care items such as toothpaste, toothbrushes, deodorant, shampoo, soap, bath towels and feminine hygiene products. Food items like canned meats, peanut butter, bottled water, sports drinks and other canned foods will be accepted as will baby items like disposable diapers, baby food, powdered formula, baby shampoo and bottles.
The company will also accept blankets, pillows, battery-powered flashlights and lanterns, batteries, games, toys, undergarments and socks.
All items should be new and in the original packaging.
Fleet Feet Sports is accepting donations of new or gently used socks and running shoes at their store at 6416 Carlisle Pike, Mechanicsburg. The drive is part of an effort at Fleet Feet stores across the country. Donations will be sent to two stores in Texas that will ensure the socks and shoes go to organizations helping people in need.
Local agencies are also using their websites and social media platforms to direct local donors to sister agencies in the disaster-stricken region.
YWCA of Carlisle, for example, used its Facebook page to ask local residents to consider donating to the YWCA of Houston’s Hurricane Relief Fund, which will help individuals and families with shelf-stable food, furniture, housing and more.
Similarly, United Way of Carlisle and Cumberland County posted a link on its Facebook page directing people to a page for the national United Way response and to the United Ways of Texas disaster relief page at uwtexas.org/hurricane-harvey.
Central Pennsylvania Food Bank is connecting visitors to Feeding America, which is accept donations to its network, which is working to support families with disaster relief and recovery. The Feeding America site, feedingamerica.org, also includes links to food banks in the immediate area of the disasters so that visitors can support specific programs.
When making donations, people can visit websites like GuideStart or Charity Navigator to learn more about the charities.
Stacy Palmer, editor of the Chronicle of Philanthropy, also suggests looking through local news reports for information on a charity’s work, or contacting the local United Way and the local Community Foundation — in this case Houston’s.
It’s up to you whether to go with a local charity that might know the area better, or a national charity that has wider reach. Palmer says “both kinds of organizations have their place right now.”