Puerto Rico was devastated by Hurricane Maria in September 2017, and many people are still without power or clean water. Whether you have family and friends there or you just want to help, you can send supplies and donations to help support the rebuilding efforts. Most organizations prefer cash donations, though, since this allows them to distribute aid where it’s needed most.
In a Hurry?
If you want to send supplies to help Puerto Rico, gather up useful supplies like bottled water, non-perishable food, diapers, and first-aid kits. If you know people living in Puerto Rico, you can ship the supplies directly to them. Otherwise, you can donate your supplies through an organization like the Salvation Army or United for Puerto Rico. Keep reading for ideas on other ways to help the recovery effort in Puerto Rico.
1Gather supplies that you want to donate. Try to think of supplies that you think would be useful to people struggling through an emergency situation, or visit the website of some of the charities that are accepting donations and see what they suggest.
2Contact your local Salvation Army to donate through their organization. The Salvation Army collects and distributes supplies to areas affected by major disasters, like Puerto Rico. However, they ask that potential donors call their local Salvation Army branch to find out what specific goods are the most needed. You can also visit http://disaster.salvationarmyusa.org/give/?inkind to email the organization a description of the supplies you would like to order.
- Visit http://disaster.salvationarmyusa.org/aboutus/?contactus to find a link
3Donate basic personal supplies to the American Red Cross. The American Red Cross is often one of the first organizations on the ground after an emergency. They distribute basic care items like deodorant and shampoo, as well as items to assist in cleanup, like trash bags and shovels. Contact the Red Cross location nearest you to see what items they need.
- Visit http://www.redcross.org/find-your-local-chapter to find your local red cross chapter.
4Purchase solar lights from Light and Hope for Puerto Rico. Light and Hope for Puerto Rico is an organization which is distributing solar lights, mobile phones chargers, and portable washing machines to the people of Puerto Rico. You can purchase these items directly through their website to be sent to people in need.
- Visit their fundraising page at https://www.generosity.com/emergencies-fundraising/light-and-hope-for-puerto-rico-a-citizen-campaign.
5Purchase water filters from LifeStraw to help give Puerto Ricans clean water. LifeStraw provides water filters to people around the world. You can visit LifeStraw’s website at https://www.crowdrise.com/o/en/campaign/hurricanerelieffund/lifestraw to purchase an individual filter or one large enough to supply a whole community.
6Find local establishments taking shipments to Puerto Rico. Talk to your friends and neighbors, watch the local news, and check social media to try to find small businesses, churches, or charities in your area who are still taking shipments of supplies to Puerto Rico. If you hear of a business that is doing this, donate supplies to help their cause.
- Call before you drop off your supplies, since they will only be able to take so much on each trip.
Finding Other Ways to Donate
1Consider giving cash instead of supplies. By donating cash, you can help ensure that your donation is used where it is most needed. There are a number of organizations that are accepting cash donations to fund their relief efforts, including United for Puerto Rico, UNICEF, Global Giving, ConPRmetidos, and the American Red Cross. In fact, many of these nonprofits request cash donations.
- Make sure that the charity you choose is a reputable one. Visit the website of an organization like GiveWell Charity Navigator, which helps donors verify charities.
- Most of these organizations allow you to send cash donations through their websites via PayPal, bank transfer, or credit/debit card.
2Send your donations to family or friends if you know people in Puerto Rico. If you have the address of family members, you can ship your supplies directly to them. Try to contact them beforehand to make sure you know exactly what they can use.
- Make sure you pay attention to shipping restrictions such as weight limits or items which are prohibited for shipment. For instance, you cannot ship medicine, liquor, or cosmetics to Puerto Rico.
3Volunteer to help rebuild homes. If you have construction skills and are currently in Puerto Rico, consider donating some of your time through an organization like Voluntary Organizations Active in Disasters (VOAD), which matches volunteers with teams who are already on the ground.
4Donate your airline miles to a charity if you have them. If you have a credit card that gives rewards in the form of airline miles, you can often donate these airline miles to a charity to assist them as they deliver supplies to Puerto Rico.
5Adopt an animal from Puerto Rico. Puerto Rico had a huge population of stray dogs, called “satos,” before Hurricane Maria, but the problem is even worse now. Many people had to flee the island, leaving their dogs, cats, and other pets behind. Several organizations are working to bring these animals to the U.S. mainland so they can be rehomed. Consider helping by opening your home to one of these animals or by donating money to relevant organizations.
- Organizations like Wings of Rescue, The Sato Project, and Caribbean Sato Rescue are working to rescue and rehome Puerto Rico’s stray animals.
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