Since last weekend, we have watched the news in horror as Texas communities surrounding our city went up in flames. Family had been evacuated from their homes; friends had bags packed, waiting for evacuation orders; we saw beautiful land and even a state park engulfed in flames and knew that hundreds of homes had been completely lost, thousands of people displaced. We felt helpless—until it became clear that there is always something we can do.
In disasters like the ones we've seen hitting our homes across the country, from hurricanes to earthquakes to tornadoes to wildfires, there's always one very important thing that every person can do.
Share and give your own belongings! Donate clothes, linens, and even housewares to people who have lost their homes. Think about small kids, teenagers, the elderly, and pets, too. Find out what's in greatest need in your area and donate what you can, with one very important caveat: be sure to follow all instructions on where to take the donations, so as not to hinder any relief efforts on the ground.
Get your friends and neighbors involved to make an even larger donation, and designate one or two people to make the appropriate drop-off, closely heeding officials' instructions. If you can't give things, donate money or gift cards to grocery stores through a reputable charity.
The American Red Cross in your area will have up-to-date information on clothing, item, and food donations, as will local news affiliates. To help the thousands of people affected by wildfires in Texas, check out this page of volunteer information at the Statesman.
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(Image: Deanna Roy, who asks that if this photo moved you, please make a donation to the Red Cross of Central Texas.)