Giving to Texas relief while avoiding anti-American groups soliciting Harvey donations

There are many groups collecting emergency relief money and donations for the Texas and Louisiana victims of Harvey. Be aware of who you are donating money to, and what they will be doing with it.

Hurricane Harvey - Image ABC News live stream screenshot

WASHINGTON, September 1, 2017 ­— In the wake of one of America’s greatest natural disasters, Antifa activists are trying to discourage people from donating money for Hurricane Harvey relief efforts. Rather than give to the American Red Cross and other legitimate charities, they want money to go to left-wing causes, including advocacy groups that are not engaged in relief or rebuilding efforts. These are PACs designed to promote violent, left-wing, anti-American groups like Antifa.

One group encourages donors to give to the Texas Organizing Project Education Fund. This group conducts “direct action organizing, grass-roots lobbying and electoral organizing led by working families in Texas.”

The Texas Organizing Project (TOP) fund is dedicated to leftist community organizing. From the fund’s website:

“Together we will organize and advocate for our devastated communities, shining a spotlight on inequalities that emerge in the restoration of lives, livelihoods, and homes, amplifying the needs of hard-hit communities, and providing legal assistance for residents wrongfully denied government support.”

Linda Sarsour is using Twitter to solicit donations to TOP for a “Hurricane Harvey Relief Fund.” But that money seems more likely to be destined for advocacy, organizing and political activism; not for rebuilding communities, but to tear them down.

If you can donate to the relief effort, consider contacting the Salvation Army or the Red Cross, an independent, congressionally chartered organization.

American Red Cross CEO and President Gail McGovern said Thursday that the organization, which has helped put 32,000 people in shelters in Houston so far, is “taking great care that we’re great stewards of our donors’ dollars.”

“On average, 91 cents of every dollar that we spend goes to our services, and we are really proud of the fact that we keep our overhead low,” she said on “CBS This Morning.” “People that are designating money for victims of Hurricane Harvey — that money will be used for the people that were impacted by Hurricane Harvey.”

Other than the Red Cross, there are numerous charities working to collect funds and led efforts to help Texas rebuild:

NFL player J.J. Watt is telling victims of Hurricane Harvey, he and his teammates “have your back.” The Houston Texans defensive end has raised more than $13 million for Houston flood relief, far surpassing his original $200,000 goal, and does not plan to stop anytime soon.

“The initial night, we broke the site, we couldn’t figure out how to get it back up and we somehow found the CEO’s phone number and called him at his house and got him out of bed,” Watt told CNN’s Anderson Cooper on “AC360.” “He helped us fix the site and it got rolling.”

The group’s goal has moved up to $15million, however checking the donation site they are quickly closing in on that number, and the needle will most likely be moved further. Watt’s has said that phase one of his efforts will be to have his teammates distributing nine semi trucks of water, food, and clothing to those in need.

Watts is also making sure that he learns what went wrong and right following Katrina, reaching out to the NFL’s Drew Brees and The Brees Dream Foundation and companies that stepped up following the August 2005 disaster.

“I talked to some of the companies that helped out over there (in New Orleans) just to kind of get a glimpse of what went wrong, what went right, and how do you think we can do it best this time,” Watt told CNN. “And I’ve gotten some really good information and the best thing that people have told me so far is take your time to make sure you do it right.”

There are numerous ways to help those affected by the storms in Texas. Your first stop to verify a charity should be America’s Charities who grade charities that collect donations.

You can also look at any of the following groups  (list compiled by The NY Times):

Local Groups

The Hurricane Harvey Relief Fund of Houston’s mayor, Sylvester Turner, which is administered by the Greater Houston Community Foundation.

Houston Food Bank and the Food Bank of Corpus Christi are asking for donations.

The South Texas Blood and Tissue Center is reporting a critical shortage and has extended hours at all of its San Antonio-area donor rooms. To donate, call 210-731-5590 or visit their website for more information.

Carter BloodCare covers hospitals in North, Central and East Texas. To donate, call 877-571-1000 or text DONATE4LIFE to 444-999.

To help animals suffering from the disaster, visit the Houston Humane Society or the San Antonio Humane Society. The Houston Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals has set up an animal emergency response hotline (713-861-3010) and is accepting donations on its website.

The Texas Diaper Bank in San Antonio is asking for diapers and wipes, which can be dropped off in person or mailed to 5415 Bandera Road, Suite 504, San Antonio, Tex., 78238.

The United Way of Greater Houston flood relief fund will be used to help with immediate needs as well as long-term services like minor home repair. Visit their website to donate or text UWFLOOD to 41444.

The L.G.B.T.Q. Disaster Relief Fund will be used to help people “rebuild their lives through counseling, case management, direct assistance with shelf stable food, furniture, housing and more.” It is managed by The Montrose Center, Houston’s longtime community center for the area’s gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender population.

For more options, the Federal Emergency Management Agency recommends checking with the National Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster for a list of trusted disaster-relief organizations in Texas.

National Groups

The American Red Cross is accepting donations on its website. You can also text HARVEY to 90999 to donate $10.

AmeriCares takes medicine and supplies to survivors.

Catholic Charities provides food, clothing, shelter and support services to those from all religious backgrounds.

Direct Relief is shipping medicine and medical supplies to Texas and has made its entire medical inventory of more than $100 million available for the Harvey relief effort.

Matthew 25: Ministries is distributing personal care kits, cleaning products, first aid and safety kits, diapers, paper products and tarps.

Donations to the Salvation Army can be made online, by calling 1-800-SAL-ARMY (1-800-725-2769) or texting STORM to 51555.

Save the Children is delivering baby supplies, including cribs and strollers, and setting up child-friendly spaces in shelters.

AABB, which coordinates a task force to manage blood collection efforts during disasters, put out a call on Sunday for blood donations in the aftermath of Harvey. Most in demand: those with type O-positive blood.

Those interested in donating blood may contact the following organizations:

• AABB: 301-907-6977• America’s Blood Centers • American Red Cross: 1-800-RED CROSS (1-800-733-2767)• Armed Services Blood Program: 703-681-5979

Online-only organizations

Airbnb is waiving service fees for those affected by the disaster and checking in between Aug. 23 and Sept. 25, and can guide users in creating a listing where their home is offered to victims free.

GoFundMe has created a page with all of its Harvey-related campaigns, including one started by the country singer Chris Young, who donated $100,000, and another created by the president and chief executive of the Rockport-Fulton Chamber of Commerce.

YouCaring has a fund-raising page set up by J. J. Watt of the Houston Texans with a goal of $10 million. By 9:30 p.m. Wednesday it had raised more than $7 million.

GlobalGiving’s Hurricane Harvey Relief Fund supports local organizations by helping to “meet survivors’ immediate needs for food, fuel, clean water, hygiene products and shelter.” It will also assist with longer-term recovery efforts.

How to avoid being scammed

Before giving money to an organization, do your research.

Charity Navigator, which identifies worthy charities, has a handy list of organizations that are responding in the aftermath of the storm. Their extensive database provides a good starting place to research nonprofits.

The Internal Revenue Service can also help you investigate an organization. Its search tool reveals whether or not an organization is eligible to receive tax-deductible charitable contributions.

For advice on avoiding fraudsters, read Charity Navigator’s post on how to protect yourself, and check out these tips from the Federal Trade Commission.

“Be wary of charities that spring up too suddenly in response to current events and natural disasters,” the F.T.C. website says. “Even if they are legitimate, they probably don’t have the infrastructure to get the donations to the affected area or people.”

GoFundMe, the source of many new fund-raisers that popped up after Harvey, offers a way for donors and campaign organizers to communicate directly.

Bobby Whithorne, a spokesman for GoFundMe, said in an email that if a specific campaign is raising questions, “report the campaign directly to GoFundMe by clicking ‘Report Campaign’ on the GoFundMe campaign page or, report your concerns to the state Consumer Protection Hotline.”

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