A brutal winter storm has battered large parts of the central and southern United States, forcing millions of people to search for the basics for survival — food, water and shelter from record cold.
President Joe Biden has declared emergencies in Texas, Oklahoma and Louisiana and vowed to send aid. Nonprofit organizations are also at work trying to address the humanitarian crisis created by the storm.
Here is how you can help.
The Dallas Wings, the WNBA basketball team, is helping raise money with the American Fidelity Foundation and OurCalling to help those people sheltering at the Dallas Convention Center. All money donations up to $6,000 will be matched, organizers say.
Getting food to people in need can be difficult, especially when the bitter cold strains local energy grids. Organizations that are on the ground and helping feed people include the North Texas Food Bank; the San Antonio Food Bank, which serves southwestern Texas; and Feeding Texas, which partners with nearly two dozen food banks throughout the state.
Front Steps, an Austin-based organization working to end homelessness, is running a blanket drive. Instead of “blessing bags, snack bars, etc.,” the group notes that blankets have a “lasting impact.” The group says that acrylic blankets are preferred (wool may irritate damaged skin and cotton easily retains moisture).
In Lewisville, about 25 miles north of Dallas, the Salvation Army is looking for food and supplies, including gloves, towels, soap and moisturizer.
The Homeless Alliance in Oklahoma is asking for donations so it can operate its day shelter and extend its street outreach efforts. According to the organization, it can provide a week’s worth of lunches to a person at its day shelter with a donation of $4.
The Regional Food Bank of Oklahoma has an ongoing call for financial contributions, as well as donations of nonperishables and dry goods.
The American Red Cross in Oklahoma is asking for monetary contributions as well as blood donations, which the group notes are in short supply.
The Arcadiana Regional Coalition on Homelessness & Housing, which serves eight parishes in the state, is seeking donations to both its general fund and its emergency hotel shelter fund.
According to the Foodbank of Northeast Louisiana, 1 in 5 people in its area faces hunger. The organization says it can help provide 55 meals with each donation of $10.
Before you donate …
Make sure to research any organization on trusted sites like Charity Navigator and Guidestar, which rate nonprofits based on their effectiveness and financial condition. These sites can also show whether the organization’s goals and practices align with your values and beliefs. For example, those interested in giving to nonprofit organizations focused on climate change, which is linked to the intensity and frequency of natural disasters, may want to consult Charity Navigator’s list of organizations chosen by environmental experts.
The Internal Revenue Service’s database can tell you if the organization is eligible to receive tax-deductible donations.
After disasters like crippling storms, there is often an increase in fraudulent activity. If you suspect an organization or person may be committing fraud, you can report it to the National Center for Disaster Fraud.