Looking to help victims of storm Harvey recover? Donate — but do so wisely.

Looking to help victims of storm Harvey recover? Donate — but do so wisely.


Joe Tijerina, right, works to salvage items from his home that was destroyed in the wake of Hurricane Harvey in Rockport, Texas. | Eric Gay, Associated Press

With Hurricane Harvey dropping more than 49 inches of rain in Texas and causing massive damage to the greater Houston region, many here are looking to help and officials want you to do so — but only in a way that will protect your finances and assure that donations are ending up in the hands of those who need it most.

Rhode Island Attorney General Peter F. Kilmartin is reminding Rhode Islanders that using an appropriate and established agency, researching your donation and taking a moment to verify the request are important steps in making sure the money you give for recovery helps those in need instead of ending up in the hands of a scam artist.

“The effects of Hurricane Harvey are likely to continue for the next several weeks, and the need for relief efforts to help Texans are sure to increase as we become fully aware of the devastation the storm leaves in its path,” Kilmartin said.

During the early stage of relief efforts — and some in Texas were still experiencing impacts from the storm on Tuesday — charitable organizations state that monetary donations are the best way to help those in need. As the relief efforts continue into the coming days, weeks, and possibly months, there may be additional relief efforts seeking other items including water, clothing, and household goods, officials with the American Red Cross said in a press release.

Kilmartin said residents need to remain wary of any online or unsolicited requests for money to help relief efforts. Organizations like the Red Cross do not typically call to solicit donations and available volunteers are often coordinating relief, not sitting by a telephone.

In addition, state and local police have said it is best to avoid donating to crowdfunding websites unless the cause and recipient can be verified through a formal organization. Instead, they suggested using established recovery organizations including the American Red Cross, The Salvation Army or Catholic Charities USA.

“Reputable charitable organizations will not make unsolicited calls or send unsolicited texts or emails asking for money. The best way to give is to visit the charitable organization’s website directly,” Kilmartin said. “Don’t click on links in texts or emails as they may direct you to a fraudulent site set up with the intent of taking your money and not helping those in need.”

Giving back safely

A number of national organizations have already established relief efforts, including the American Red Cross, the Salvation Army, and Catholic Charities. Those charities have established ways to donate to the efforts:

American Red Cross

To donate, visit www.redcross.org, call 1-800-RED CROSS, or text the word HARVEY to 90999 to make a $10 donation.

The Salvation Army

To donate, visit www.givesalvationarmy.org or call 1-800-725-2769.

Catholic Charities USA

To donate, visit www.catholiccharitiesusa.org.

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