Last night an 8.9 magnitude earthquake rocked Japan, setting off a tsunami. It’s the kind of disaster that can strike any time, that we all fear a little bit. And this one is real, happening right now. If your family is at all like mine, watching the news this morning has made you feel a little helpless. Worse is sharing that news with your kids.
In the face of a natural disaster, though, you have to talk about it as a family. You have to reach out and connect with loved ones, making sure your family and friends are all safe, offering support if they’ve been affected. Then, you want to do something. Anything, as long as it helps the disaster victims.
When natural disasters strike, the first thing many of us want to do is offer help. It can be hard to know what to do from a great distance, though. When a tsunami hits Japan or Hawaii and you’re sitting dry in your living room in New York, how can you bridge the distance with a helping hand?
Here are some things you can do right now and in the coming weeks to help the victims of the Okinawa earthquake and the tsunami that followed it:
- Give to the Red Cross. The Red Cross has the infrastructure to rapidly respond to crises all over the world. When a natural disaster hits, they’re usually the best equipped to give immediate aid. They’re already helping in Hawaii and Japan. You can text REDCROSS to 90999 to make a $10 donation right now, or go to their website for more options.
- Give blood. Even if the disaster is far from your immediate area, giving blood increases the overall supply and eases strain on the blood transfusion system.
- Give time. Wait a day or two to let the dust settle, then call your local Red Cross office or another disaster relief group and ask what you can do to help. Giving even a few hours of your time can be a big help.
- Raise awareness. Let others know what you’re doing to help, and why this disaster deserves their attention as well. Talking about it can keep it on people’s minds and make it seem more real. You’ll inspire those around you to lend their efforts as well.
- Help your kids raise funds. Your kid may want to give to the Red Cross or another aid organization as well. You can help get their neighborhood friends or classroom involved and organize a fund-raising project. Little kids can make a big difference when they work together.
- Don’t donate junk. Americans are extremely giving people, but sometimes we give the wrong stuff. Donating individual boxes of band-aids or your spare comforter won’t help much, well-intentioned as it is. Aid organizations need cash to do the immediate relief work. In most cases, its cheaper for them to buy supplies locally than to organize and transport donated goods.
- Keep Giving. Disaster victims still need help long after the headlines stop. Make a commitment to give regularly to the Red Cross, find a local aid organization to support, or simply check back in a year later to determine what the needs are in the disaster area.