Best way to help Hurricane Sandy victims is donating through a reputable relief organization

Vermonters are in a position to repay some of the help that poured into the state last year after Tropical Storm Irene. Eight Red Cross volunteers headed to New Jersey Wednesday to help out, and Gov. Peter Shumlin is offering two Vermont Guard helicopters to relief efforts.

At this point, though, it is more helpful to make a monetary donation to a reputable relief organization than to send items.

Providing most immediate relief of shelter, food, clothing, supplies and blood is, of course, the American Red Cross. Donations can be made on its website, www.redcross.org. A $10 donation that will be charged to a donor’s cell phone bill can be made by texting REDCROSS to 90999. Donations by phone can be made by calling 1-800-REDCROSS (1-800-733-2767).

The Salvation Army, which is providing meals and shelter, is also accepting text donations. Text STORM to 80888 and $10 will be added to your cell phone bill. Online donations can be made at www.salvationarmyusa.org or by phone at 1-800-725-2729.

The Vermont Community Foundation has created a website, www.vtfloodresponse.org/sandy, with information with giving and volunteer opportunities. They say it might be a few days before volunteer opportunities are clear but they’re working with their contacts in the hard-hit areas. There is also a national volunteer coordinating organization for groups that wish to volunteer their help.

In New Jersey, individual or group volunteers can call the state’s volunteer emergency response hotline at 1-800-JERSEY-7 (1-800-537-7397). If the hotline is disabled from the storm, volunteers can try one of two backup hotline numbers: 609-775-5236 or 908-303-0471. Volunteers may also send an email to [email protected]. The hotline is managed by the New Jersey Business Action Center and the Governor’s Office of Volunteerism, both divisions in the New Jersey Department of State.

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