Greetings fellow AppleFrittarians,
Regarding the recent series of disasters in the southern gulf states, most notably Louisiana, I've been considering, and acting on considerations of charity donations for direct and indirect relief for the victims and want to share some of my research results. There are some definite "do's and don'ts" and if you are going to try to help these people then doing a little advanced research will help you avoid feeling scammed. Charity watch is a great website for information and tips. http://www.charitywatch.org . Also, beware of internet and telephone scam artists even if they say they represent a well known charity, as there are already reports of this happening now, and I've already been solicited through email. (in fact you can bypass the links in this note, find them independently, and use them then. This is a more secure method. Be certain to check your typing for errors though.)
I, and other people have had some very negative experiences with some major recognized charities, The American Red Cross being the chief culprit. The large percentage of money in their overhead, the outrageous salaries they pay their executives, the low percentage that actually goes to victims, their long history of CHARGING PEOPLE MONEY FOR FOOD in a disaster area (this has been happening at least since World War II), and DIVERTING FUNDS donated for specific causes to their general fund when they said they wouldn't, means that I won't help them any more.
You can do your own research. http://www.charitywatch.org/toprated.html . I thought that I would dontate to the Salvation Army, however, I've also found that they are not the very positively rated for percentage of money taken in versus put out.
As an ex-catholic I'm loathe to write this, that probably the most effective disaster relief private agency is the American Catholic Charities. http://www.catholiccharitiesusa.org/donate/donate.cfm .
Beside giving money you can also find a trust worthy organization and volunteer your time, which for many can be more meaningful though difficult. Also, if you are eligable, please DONATE BLOOD. Most of the hospitals that hear horror stories of death and survival from this catastophy lost electrical power, refrigeration, and therefore their blood and plasma supplies. The blood supply across the country is at it's annual low point, as is typical at the end of summer. The bloodbanks are expecting a major call for supplies. If you are used to donating blood please consider donating as an "automated blood donator" which is SIX TIMES MORE EFFECTIVE than a single donation of whole blood. I gave blood, but I'm sad to write that it was my first time in many years, and I regret not having done more before now.
Thankyou for your attention