What’s the Best Way to Volunteer or Donate to Hurricane Sandy Relief?

A week after hurricane Sandy made landfall on the east coast, many thousands of our neighbors remain displaced, without access to necessities like heat, food and water.

Here in New Jersey and New York, many of those fortunate enough to have power, shelter and food are asking the same questions:

What’s the best way to help? Where can I volunteer? What kinds of donations are best?

The most common answer is that donating money or time are usually the best options. This story from the LA Times tells of “second tier disasters” where relief workers and volunteers have wasted much effort sorting through donations of physical items that weren’t actually helpful to those who needed help.

John B. Franklin, CEO of the United Way of Northern New Jersey, urges would-be volunteers to, “please, do not self-deploy to an impacted community and do not begin a collection drive without consulting with a reputable agency,” on their website.

All available information seems to say the same thing. The best way to volunteer or donate to hurricane Sandy relief efforts is by sticking to a known organization with the experience and expertise to make the best use of volunteer and donation efforts.

If you already know about an existing local group helping people in your neighborhood, contacting the organizers first to see what they really need will be more helpful than guessing.

Otherwise, here are some organizations that are working in New Jersey and New York to help.

How Can I Volunteer Time to Hurricane Sandy Relief in NYC?

Volunteer with NYC Service: www.nycservice.org is supported by nyc.gov, encouraging everybody to use available time and skills to help New Yorkers.

Volunteer at New York Cares: www.newyorkcares.org is also effectively mobilizing New York volunteers to help after hurricane Sandy.

How to Volunteer in NJ after Hurricane Sandy

Volunteer through United Way: United Way of Northern New Jersey is accepting volunteer registrations at this webpage.

New Jersey volunteer emergency response hotline: Set up by the state of NJ earlier this year for use in case of disaster, there are three phone numbers to call.

800-537-7397 is the main number. If this number is busy, volunteers should try the following backup numbers: 609-775-5236 and 908-303-0471.

Volunteering at Food Banks

The following food banks are accepting volunteers and donations:

Community Food Bank of New Jersey – www.cfbnj.org
Food Bank for NYC – www.foodbanknyc.org

Where Else Can I Donate to Hurricane Sandy Relief?

American Red Cross accepts volunteers and donations. Find a nearby Red Cross chapter here.

NYC Mayor’s Fund accepts donations here.

Hurricane Sandy NJ Relief Fund website has been set up by New Jersey to accept donations here

** Please note that some of the websites listed here are likely to be receiving high volumes of traffic. If a site seems to be loading slowly, be patient. If it’s not loading at all, wait a little while and try again.

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