Thousands of Americans – from Joplin, Missouri to Oklahoma, Arkansas and Tennessee – are trying to piece their lives back together after losing homes and other possessions in natural disasters.
Iowans are quick to offer help, but Arvid Huisman with the Salvation Army in Des Moines says unsolicited donated goods like clothing, furniture and food only create problems. “Most agencies, including the Salvation Army, are simply not set up to store, transport and distribute those items on the other end,” Huisman explained. And he says few agencies that help disaster victims have the needed warehouse space to store donated goods.
Huisman suggests donating cash instead. “It allows us to be totally flexible to meet immediate needs the victims have,” Huisman said. Donated goods, which may not even meet the needs of disaster survivors, also require agencies to redirect personnel to sort through those items rather than providing services to victims.
“When people donate goods, if they’re accepted, it drives up costs because we then need to store them and transport them,” Huisman said. “Cash donations are still the most effective way to help the storm victims.” Donations may be made by calling 1-800-SAL-ARMY or online at www.salvationarmyusa.org.
Huisman says the Salvation Army’s thrift store in Joplin was destroyed by Sunday’s tornado as well as a truck used by the store. An extensive renovation of the thrift store was recently completed. The death toll from tornado in Joplin has climbed to 125, while tornadoes in nearby states have claim more than a dozen lives.