What to donate during a disaster- charities need dollars - NBC12 - WWBT - Richmond, VA News On Your Side

What to donate during a disaster- charities need dollars

RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) -

Since the moment the tornado hit, Richmond has been reaching out to help the victims. NBC12'S Call 12 center was flooded with calls Tuesday, as Red Cross volunteers took in nearly $7,000 in donations, in just a few hours.

Charity organizations leading the Oklahoma relief effort, like the Salvation Army and Red Cross, say money is what is needed most right now. Organizers say money is the most efficient way to help victims, right away. Logistically, clothing and food donations need to be transported, sorted and redistributed into an area that's been leveled, and closed off.

Victims ravaged by the tornado will receive a hundred percent of the money donated through Central Virginia's Salvation Army, according to the organization's area Director of Development Lou Mazzini.

The Salvation Army will distribute gift cards to needy families to local stores. Organizations say buying supplies locally also helps to revive the economy in the devastated area.

"We are the expression of hundreds of people across the United States. The Salvation Army is the expression of their love and their willingness to give," said Mazzini.

The Red Cross says 91 cents on the dollar directly funds people who now have nothing.

"By giving a donation, we're able to work with the local state and federal officials who are on the ground to identify specifically…the need on the ground…purchase those resources in bulk to make sure we're getting the best bang for our buck, to make sure we're delivering exactly what those individuals need," said Jonathan McNamara, of the American Red Cross.

The thought behind items like canned food and clothing is appreciated. However, logistically those items can be too difficult to deliver during the early stages of a disaster.

"You have transportation to get (the items) there. There's the stewardship concern, in making sure we get it there in the same health it was in when it was given to us," explained Mazzini.

Sorting through the items also deters valuable manpower. Often, it's reported disaster sites become dumping grounds for unwanted items, like clothing in very poor shape or furniture that couldn't be used anyway.

However, if you only wish to donate goods instead of money, make sure you know where it's going, how it's getting there, and who's delivering it upon arrival. Sometimes smaller drives have difficulty getting access on the disaster site. NBC12 is waiting to hear back from the Red Cross on any local drives that will be doing just that.

Copyright 2013 WWBT NBC12.  All rights reserved.

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