The amount of natural disasters happening all over the U.S. and other parts of the world have left our hearts feeling heavy and heartbroken. The travesty of Hurricane Harvey, the forest fires in Oregon, and now Hurricane Irma hitting the caribbean leaves us feeling hopeless. On the other side of that, it is in times like this where our human population stands together in unity to help our fellow Americans and neighboring countries. Our thoughts and prayers go out to all of those affected by one of the natural disasters listed above. We know that there is much more happening in our world, but these three events directly impact people we know, organizations we work with, and the beautiful lands that we know and love.

The goal of this blog is to express our deepest sympathies, but also to let you know how you can help. In the matter of rescue and relief work, nonprofits send out volunteers and people to rescue, respond, and care for immediate emergencies.

One great nonprofit working towards helping the communities surrounding the Houston area is One Star Foundation located in Texas. Immediately after Hurricane Harvey started ripping through that area, One Star created a campaign in order to build resiliency in the communities affected by Hurricane Harvey. They have partnered with the Michael and Susan Dell Foundation, as well as Governor Greg Abbott to form a relief fund for the victims of Hurricane Harvey called “Rebuild Texas.” Right now, the most that anyone not close by to Houston or surrounding areas, is donate to the cause.

“The Rebuild Texas Fund is about people helping people in our time of greatest need, and also about addressing the long-term effort ahead of us. Michael and Susan Dell remain deeply committed to rebuilding our communities across Texas in the wake of Hurricane Harvey, and will use the remainder of their $36 million total commitment to continue to grow the fund to $100 million.” (www.rebuildtx.org)

American Red Cross is in great need of blood. If you are able to find a local blood drive and donate, that is another way that you could be helping with relief efforts.

The most important thing to know is that now is not the time to send Houstonians our “stuff.”

Most shelters and organizations do not have the capacity to take in used items. It just isn’t their focus right now. Right now, they are devastated, having lost their homes, pets, and possibly loved ones. Right now they need hope and that hope comes in the form of nonprofit organizations working overtime to collect funds to put towards building up what was torn down. It is our duty as a country to support the nonprofits who send out trained volunteers to support and care for our wounded.

In the following days, we will see the damage of both Hurricane Irma and the Oregon Fires and will know better how we can help. It takes a band of people working together for a common goal to get through the ruinous events, such as the ones we are facing right now.  Please continue to read our blogs for more ways to help.

-Ashley Hodges, Nerds Abroad Secretary