SAN ANTONIO, Texas -- Communities can be a vital partner with federal and state agencies in providing disaster relief, says the Texas Division of Emergency Management (DEM). And to help your community help others, the state has established a Donations Information Hotline.
The toll-free number is 1-800-839-4636. It is staffed by local volunteers seven days a week, from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. to help match donation offers with community relief organizations.
"Our goal is to help victims maintain their dignity by providing them with needed items," said State Donations Coordinator Dave Tomkins. "Now's not the time to drop off old prom dresses or fur coats."
Recovery specialists who are working closely with disaster victims have suggestions for those who want to help:
- Cash contributions are better because they can be matched with specific identified needs.
- Unsolicited donations can't always be matched with a disaster victim.
- You can make a difference no matter how small the donation.
- Anyone can help - individuals, businesses, civic organizations or government groups.
- You can be more effective by working with others.
- Call the Donations Information Hotline to best match your donation with an urgent need.
"Our past experience has shown that after a disaster, many people want to help by volunteering their services or by sending items directly to an area. But the most effective way to help is by directly contacting their local disaster relief organizations," said State Coordinating Officer Ed Laundy. "Everyone has an opportunity to contribute to the recovery of our communities, but call first to see how you can help the most."
Relief organizations are listed in the telephone book Yellow Pages under "Social Service Organizations," and may include American Red Cross, The Salvation Army, Baptist Men Feeding Organization, Adventist Community Services, Second Harvest Food Banks, Mennonite Disaster Services and more.