North Texas disaster relief efforts are well underway in the aftermath of the devastation of Hurricane Harvey and there are ways for average citizens to help.
If you want to volunteer right now, relief agencies are preparing for as many as 5,000 evacuees at a “mega shelter” being set up at the Kay Bailey Hutchison Convention Center at 650 S. Griffin St. in Dallas.
About 1,000 volunteers are expected to be needed to help feed hot meals to folks evacuating from the Gulf Coast, said Nadia Hill of VolunteerNow, which recruits and assigns volunteers needed to assist in mass relief efforts.
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The American Red Cross and Salvation Army will be coordinating the operation. The North Texas Food Bank is providing meals on standby for the three shelters set up in Dallas, and the Tarrant Area Food Bank is ready to pitch in when and if it’s needed, said spokeswoman Anita Foster.
Fort Worth is ready to open five shelters when needed, it said in a statement Monday afternoon. If and when it does, the Red Cross and Salvation Army will staff those.
“Of course, we need all the volunteers we can get,” said Courtney Hicks, representative of the Salvation Army’s DFW Area Metroplex Command.
Hicks said the Salvation Army has yet to begin taking official sign-ups for volunteers but those who wish to volunteer at the mega shelter or elsewhere can register at voly.org/disaster. Once you create a volunteer account, you’ll be able to see what’s needed and respond to opportunities.
Some volunteer jobs, such as with the American Red Cross, require a background check. But Red Cross spokesman Dan Halyburton said the background check is “real fast,” done within minutes. He recommended registering at redcross.org to get into the Red Cross system. You’ll be contacted once you’re accepted into the system.
“We know we’re going to be here a long time because a lot of people — their houses were just devastated,” he said.
The volunteer nonprofit Trusted World based in Allen, meanwhile, is taking material donations of underwear, socks, warmups, toiletries and hygiene products, baby formula and baby wipes, bottles, diapers and other necessities at a drop-off site at 15660 N. Dallas Parkway in Dallas. The donation center will be open from 3 p.m. to 8 p.m. daily, the city of Dallas said in a post on its website.
The Junior League of Arlington is also collecting donations at its Center for Community Service at 4002 West Pioneer Parkway from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. Tuesday and from noon to 6 p.m. Wednesday. Two Men and a Truck is providing trucks to transport the donations to shelters.
To get updates on volunteer opportunities, check back at voly.org/disaster and at the MassCareTaskForce website, which is a collaboration between the American Red Cross, the Salvation Army, the North Texas Food Bank and VolunteerNow.
The quickest way to provide immediate help is by making a financial gift.
While you may feel the urge to donate items, officials have said time and time again during disaster relief efforts that monetary donations are preferred.
Consider donating to:
▪ American Red Cross: To donate, visit redcross.org, call 800-REDCROSS or text “HARVEY” to 90999 to make a $10 donation.
▪ The Salvation Army: To donate, visit helpsalvationarmy.org, call 800-SAL-ARMY or text “STORM” to 51555.
▪ Catholic Charities USA: To donate, visit catholiccharitiesusa.org.
▪ United Way Relief Fund: To donate, visit unitedwayhouston.org/flood or text UWFLOOD to 41444.
▪ JJ Watt’s Houston Flood Relief Fund: To donate, visit https://wwwyoucaring.com/victimsofhurricaneharvey-915053.
Blood donation centers expect a shortage and are putting out urgent calls for donations. The unavailability of blood banks along the coast, plus injuries from the storm, will tax existing supplies.
Carter BloodCare has had an influx of phone calls and texts inquiring about donations, said spokeswoman Linda Goelzer. “We’ve had a wonderful, wonderful response,” she said. Even people from Houston who left before the storm hit have come in to donate, she said. On Labor Day, hours of operation will be extended, she said.
Carter BloodCare will send blood donations to its partners affected by Hurricane Harvey. Particularly needed are donations of platelets, which are vital to patients being treated at the MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston, for example.
Carter BloodCare: To set up a donation, go to www.carterbloodcare.org/donate-blood/, call 800-366-2834 or text “DONATE4LIFE” to 444-999.
Hundreds of animals are expected to be displaced because of Hurricane Harvey. On Friday the Humane Society of North Texas received 13 dogs and nine cats that were evacuated from the Corpus Christi area and said Monday it is expecting more. It’s looking at assisting with horses and livestock from the region as well, said spokeswoman Sandy Shelby.
Once the dogs and cats are evaluated for health and temperament, they will be made available for adoption at one of the Humane Society’s shelters, most likely in the next few days. Due to the expected high intake of animals from the coast in the coming days, the Humane Society is having an adoption special and will charge $15 for any dog or cat adopted from the Saxe-Forte location at 1840 E. Lancaster Ave. through Sept. 4.
Donations to the Humane Society of North Texas to help with the increase in pets can be made at hsnt.org/donate.
The SPCA of Texas is accepting donations of cat litter, litter boxes, towels, blankets, treats, toys and newspaper. Donations can be taken to 2400 Lone Star Drive in Dallas or to 8411 Stacy Road in McKinney.
To make a monetary donation without having to drive to Dallas, visit spca.org/give.