The United States saw Hurricane Harvey and Hurricane Irma hit Texas, Florida, and adjacent states with a devastating impact. I'll be the first to admit, as a sixth-generation native Floridian, I used to only think about hurricane damage in a very limited, local scope. Yet, just a little over a thousand miles away, fellow citizens in the Caribbean have faced life-threatening conditions due to hurricanes, too. With the season of giving just beginning, it's never been a better time to embody the true nature of hospitality. Fortunately, there are quite a few different ways to help Puerto Rico this Thanksgiving, even from thousands of miles away.
According to the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), Hurricane Maria was, "the fifth strongest hurricane to ever hit the United States," because, yes, Puerto Rico is part of the United States and its citizens are fellow Americans. The category five hurricane is also arguably one of the worst ones to directly affect Puerto Rico in recent history. The flooding and wind damage has not only affected homes and businesses, but the lack of basic utilities — like clean drinking water and electricity — has had dire consequences for the entire island and its occupants.
Regardless of your location, budget, or ability, there are many ways to help Puerto Rico this Thanksgiving season. Here are just a few ways how, and just remember, every little bit counts.
Though some hurricanes only cause a few fallen branches and temporary road closures, this year's storms have destroyed entire neighborhoods. One way to help hurricane victims is to volunteer with Habitat for Humanity. If you're unable to join one of their trips to Puerto Rico, you can still donate to hurricane relief effort so that they can afford necessary supplies that are needed to put these houses together. No matter what your budget or ability level is, there are various ways to help families rebuild their homes and lives.
Whether a home is damaged or families are forced to evacuate, many hurricane victims find themselves without the resources to meet their basics needs. Besides donating your time or money to providing shelter, you can also donate food, water, and clothing to hurricane victims through organizations, such as The American Red Cross or the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) . It's good to remember that these places accept donations year-round, not just when disaster strikes.
Some of the people who were hit hardest in Puerto Rico were pregnant women, new moms, babies, and children. That's why Save the Children created a relief fund especially for little ones and even breastfeeding mothers. You can donate from anywhere.
The Puerto Rico Federal Affairs Administration (PRFAA) has posted United for Puerto Rico, a hurricane relief effort list with specific items, resources, and opportunities they need. From secure ways to donate cash and supplies to ready-to-share messages for social media, the government of Puerto Rico has completely covered all the ways you can help them directly. It's worth reaching out to your employer too, to see if they are set up to match your financial donation to any charity.
Though these things are used year-round, Hurricane Maria victims need blood donations and health services more than ever. You can check out where to donate blood, how to get involved, and make financial donations all on the official website for the American Red Cross.
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