What’s the best way to help victims of the West Virginia floods in June of 2016? Believe it or not, by sending money. But where to send it? This article gives the lowdown below. Sending food, water and blankets can sound like a good idea, but money is the best flood relief possible because it can be converted into whatever supplies are needed at the time and it doesn’t sit around in big heaps causing storage problems. The floods that hit West Virginia on 6/23/16 were a “thousand year event,” according to the National Weather Service. At least 23 people have been confirmed dead, but that grim statistic does nothing to paint the picture of the 500-plus homes that were destroyed, thousands upon thousands of other houses filled with thick river-bottom mud and their occupants unable to return for days or even months, living in temporary shelters and depending on charity to survive. The U.S. is far and away the most generous country on earth in terms of charitable giving, but the problem in many cases is method. Millions are searching for ways to help flood-ravaged West Virginia right now, but the right pathways for their philanthropy aren’t always obvious. Worse, scams pop up in times of disaster to siphon off well-intentioned dollars. The info below should give seekers a good start down the road to help ease the suffering.
Don’t Send “Stuff” to Help West Virginia Flood Victims
Sending money to victims of the West Virginia floods is actually a much better idea than sending material goods like food or clothing. The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) actually discourages gifts of clothing to disaster victims. Clothing has to be stored, sorted, cleaned and repackaged, then distributed to people who need it. In many cases, the used clothes wind up clogging local landfills. People who want to combine closet-cleaning with helping West Virginia flood victims could help more by holding a local yard sale, then donating the money to one of the charities below. There’s a great article here on the worst things to donate after a disaster.
— TheLastRefuge (@TheLastRefuge2) June 25, 2016
Save Lives by Amazon
One way to help West Virginia flood victims is by buying things on Amazon. This nifty page has a list of only those items currently needed by the victims. Amazon shoppers who buy anything from this direct Amazon page will know the goods are going straight to a shelter in Rainelle, West Virginia. The items will be shipped directly to survivors, shipped there from Amazon.
Where Should We Send Money?
Money is the one gift nobody ever returns. That’s as true after the floods in West Virginia as it is on Christmas morning. The trouble can be knowing where to send it. Americans are happy to fork over the cash in times of need, but they hesitate for a number of reasons. The biggest is not knowing if their money will actually make it to someone who needs it. Below is a list of places people can send money to help West Virginia’s thousands of flood victims, along with the pros and cons of each. Further down in the article we’ll explain how every one of these options can help and how to avoid the pitfalls of each. We’ll also give links and specific donation instructions.
Where to Send Money to Help West Virginia Flood Victims
|Red Cross||Provides long term help to flood victims.||Some say the money gets eaten up by administrative costs.|
|United Way||Provides long term help to flood victims.||Some say the money gets eaten up by administrative costs.|
|Local Shelters||Provides short term help for flood victims. Helps victims get settled back into their homes after cleanup with furniture and supplies. More of the money goes toward helping the flood victims.||Small, shelters, harder for givers to know if their money is being put to the best possible use.|
|GoFundMe Fundraisers||More of the money goes straight to the victims.||Uneven. A few flood victims may get a lot of money while others get none. Some scams have been popping up with fake crowdfunding pages to rip off gullible but generous people. Make sure the page is legitimate before making a donation.|
Related: U.S. Floods Cost $34 Billion
Send Money to the Red Cross
Yes, the Red Cross. It gets maligned. It gets called out for too much red tape. It gets criticized for being mismanaged or for too much of the donated money getting eaten up by administrative costs and never getting to the victims. While these criticisms are probably there for a reason, that doesn’t mean donations to the Red Cross to help West Virginia flood victims are a bad idea. Quite the contrary. Any large organization is going to have its share of mismanagement and corruption. But that doesn’t change the fact that the Red Cross has helped millions in the wake of countless disasters all over the world. According to West Virginia native Erin Board, giving money to the Red Cross is a great way to help West Virginia’s many flood victims.
“I think it depends on what level of impact you want,” says Board. “Red Cross and other big organizations are well equipped to respond to disasters at a scale that local churches can’t. Donating to big organizations helps fund the existence of those types of responses and, no, you probably aren’t funding the actual canister of water they hand out because they already bought it with money from donations made previously and yes some of their interventions were a flop. The work they are doing is still ridiculously helpful. Donating to local churches will probably enable you to feel more immediate satisfaction because you actually are paying for the canister at that point. If you are going to donate to small organizations make sure you know them, otherwise stick with well established corporate relief agencies and know that you are supporting the greater good.”
To donate to West Virginia flood victims via the Red Cross, click here. Don’t want to donate to the Red Cross? See links to several direct local shelters and organizations below.
Send Money to These Local Organizations
Can’t stand the idea of giving money to the Red Cross? Many would rather see their dollars go straight to the West Virginia flood victims. People who share this vein of thought can donate directly to local community organizations that are participating directly in the flood relief effort. The local organizations in the table below are right at ground zero in the affected areas. They’re involved directly in the rescue, shelter, supply distribution, cleanup and helping victims get back into their homes. The list below comes from philanthropywv.org.
|Nicholas County:||Donate West Virginia flood relief money to the Nicholas County Community Foundation at 304-872-0202 email: [email protected] Visit: nccfwv.com|
|Summers County:||The Hinton Area Foundation is accepting donations for West Virginia flood relief at 304-466-5332 or email: [email protected] Visit: hintonareafoundation.org|
|Greenbrier, Pocahontas, & Monroe counties:||Donate to United Way of the Greenbrier at unitedwaygreenbrier.org/flood, or for longer term money help for flood victims donate to the Greenbrier Valley Community Foundation at 304-645-5620 or email: [email protected] Visit: www.gvfoundation.org|
|Raleigh, Webster, Fayette, McDowell, and Wyoming counties:||Donate to the Beckley Area Foundation at 304-253-3806 or email: [email protected] Visit: bafwv.org|
|Mercer & Monroe counties:||Community Foundation of the Virginias at 304.324.0222 or email: [email protected]|
|Kanawha, Fayette, Boone, Clay, and Roane Counties:||Donate to the Greater Kanawha Valley Foundation at 304.346.3620 or email: [email protected] . Visit: tgkvf.org|
Local Shelters that Accept Donations
Want to get even more local? The generous and concerned can skip the middlemen and give money straight to the shelters that are helping West Virginia flood victims directly. As of 6/27/16, these shelters, approved by the Red Cross, are packed with anywhere from 40 to 200 people each. They offer food, clothing and temporary living space until victims can be relocated to semi-permanent locations. In many cases, the churches and other shelters listed below are also helping with the cleanup of homes ravaged by flood waters. Finally, they’ll assist needy families in getting settled back in.
“We’re a temporary option,” says Tom Ewing of the Sunday Road Baptist Church. “Long term, the Red Cross will step in and take over. However, these local shelters will continue to help the communities get what they need as people put their lives back together. So as areas are cleared and people go back into their houses and have nothing, they’ll need food, they’ll need clothes on their back, and that’s where we’ll step back in to help.”
Please call first to confirm that each shelter accepts donations by check. On the check, write “West Virginia flood relief” in the memo section.
West Virginia Flood Shelters Accepting Donations by Check
|Capital High School||1500 Greenbrier||Charleston||WV|
|Ronceverte VFD Shelter||722 Ronceverte Avenue||Ronceverte||WV|
|Anstead Baptist Church||146 Holley St||Anstead||WV|
|Liberty Baptist Church||155 Riverside Drive||Richwood||WV|
|Clay County Health Department||261 Main Street||Clay||WV|
|Big Otter Fire Department||5462 Big Otter Highway||Big Otter||WV|
|Fairview Baptist Temple||2294 Main Street||Clay||WV|
|St. Andrews Presbyterian Church||80 St. Andrews Lane||Elkview||WV|
|Powell Mountain Church||Powell Mountain Church Road||Birch River||WV|
|Sunday Road Baptist Church||PO Box 98||Hico||WV|
|Jordan Chapel Church||3979 Canvas Nettie Road||Canvas||WV|
|Summersville Baptist Church||422 Main Street||Summersville||WV|
Beware GoFundMe Scams
People who want 100% of their donation to go straight to a specific victim of the West Virginia floods can consider giving money to a GoFundMe or other crowdfunding campaign. These are kind of like the jars convenience store owners used to put near the register, calling for money to help a family burned out of their home. These online fundraisers are a great way to funnel money to someone affected by the West Virginia floods, but beware. Crowdfunding is also a great way to run a scam. Someone gets a picture of a flooded home and sets up a fake GoFundMe page and starts raking in the cash. For this reason, anyone donating to a GoFundMe or other crowd-sourced funding plea should make sure they know the person in the flesh before clicking the “donate” button. This page in particular is raising money to replace the house of a person the author of this article knows personally.