Monday, March 14, 2011

Prayers just aren't enough - DO SOMETHING

Anyone with any sense of sympathy and empathy - and that's most humans - is heart-broken over the situation in Japan, just as we are when we see such harrowing images from any natural or man-made disaster that causes such destruction. With or without any belief in a god, most humans don't like to see humans suffer, whether those humans are across the street or across the world.

I have read endless numbers of Facebook status updates and heard endless numbers of people on TV saying, "I'm praying for Japan!" And I have to admit that it gets in my craw, as we say in the South. So many people think, "I don't have to give money -- I'll just pray!"

I would be okay with it if they would say, "Pray for Japan - and donate any money you can, even just $5, to..."

Praying might make YOU feel really good, but it doesn't feed hungry people, it doesn't provide medicine to the injured, it doesn't provide emergency housing, it doesn't get supplies to the people who need them and it doesn't shelter the homeless.

You can donate to help Japan through the American Red Cross. Or Text REDCROSS to 90999 to give $10 (will be added to the donors’ next cellphone bill).

Mercy Corps: Mercy Corp in the USA has set up a donation fund for its partner, Peace Winds Japan, and its emergency assistance on the ground.

Every time you see someone on your social networks saying "Pray for Japan," jump in with a reminder about how to donate, and how important financial donations are. Also remind people NOT to start gathering food, clothes, medicine, etc. It is so much cheaper and more efficient for response agencies to buy and ship these items from surrounding areas that are MUCH closer than anywhere in the USA. Plus, it's better for agencies to buy these new, rather than going through donations, which are often filled with inappropriate items.

And consider channeling this helpless feeling in your gut into volunteering locally: call your local American Red Cross, or look at the chapter's web site, and attend the next volunteer orientation, and start taking their excellent training classes regarding first aid and emergency response.

Also see: Volunteering To Help After Major Disasters (which talks about how you need to get training now, before the disaster, in order to help after such).

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