With the outpouring of support for Oklahoma City, Moore, and the surrounding neighborhoods, it’s better to be cautious before making a donation to a charity you’re unfamiliar with. The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has the most common signs of a charity scam, as well as a checklist, to make sure that your money goes to who and where it will help the most.
Are you looking for how you can help the people of Oklahoma? The easiest and best way to offer assistance right now is through donations. Here are just some of the ways you can help.
There are a number of ways in which you can make a donation to the Red Cross. You can do so via text message by texting REDCROSS to 90999 (or online at www.redcross.org). If you donate via text message, please note that your $10 donation will either show up on your mobile bill or, if you have a prepaid phone, be deducted from your balance. Also, message and data rates may apply. You can also call the American Red Cross toll-free at 1-800-RED CROSS (1-800-733-2767). For Spanish speakers, please call 1-800-257-7575; for TDD, 1-800-220-4095.
If you are local to the Oklahoma City area or the region and are able to donate blood, please consider doing so as well. You can donate blood at your local hospital or area blood bank.
You can also donate via text message to the Salvation Army by texting STORM to 80888 (the donation is $10 and will either appear on your wireless bill or be deducted from your prepaid mobile). You can also donate by giving online at www.SalvationArmyUSA.org. The Salvation Army is also accepting checks via mail. They ask that you note in the memo portion of the check that the donation is for “Oklahoma Tornado Relief”. The address for mailing donations is:
The Salvation Army
P.O. Box 12600
Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, 73157
For more information, you can call them toll-free at 1-800-SAL-ARMY (1-800-725-2769).
The United Way of Central Oklahoma is accepting donations online at their website at www.UnitedWayOKC.org and also via mail. The United Way asks that checks be noted with “May Tornado Relief” and mailed to:
The United Way of Central Oklahoma
P.O. Box 837
Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, 73101
They can be reached via telephone at 1-405-523-3598, 1-405-523-3597, or their main number, 1-405-236-8441
You can help Feeding America fund their emergency food and water distribution by donating online at www.FeedingAmerica.org. Through its network of more than 200 food banks, Feeding America will deliver truckloads of food, water and supplies to communities in need in Oklahoma. You can also reach them toll-free at 1-800-910-5524.
Locating People and Pets
If you or a friend are looking for a loved one in Oklahoma City, you can use the American Red Cross Safe and Well Finder. The site was created by the Red Cross to make it easier for families and friends to know that each other is safe and well.
Google Crisis Response Center and Person Finder
Google has set up a Crisis Response Center page on which it provides shelter information, weather reports, public alerts and links to a variety of resources to aid those in or around the towns of Moore, Newcastle, and southern portions of Oklahoma City. The Crisis Reponse Center website is located here: Google.org/CrisisMap/2013-Oklahoma-Tornado
The Google Person Finder tool is also live. While the page currently says “earthquake” on it, the search and the link are for the recent Oklahoma tornado: Google.org/PersonFinder/2013-Oklahoma-Tornado/
As many of us have already heard and have seen, Barbara Garcia lost her home due to the massive tornado and feared that her beloved dog was also lost. Thankfully, she and her pet were reunited on camera as she spoke with CBS News. To learn about how you can help pet owners and lost and missing animals be reunited, the Oklahoma Humane Society is working to ensure that pets make their ways home safely. They are also housing and treating lost and injured animals. Their Development Office is collecting donations for a disaster relief fund. To learn more, please visit them online at www.OKHumane.org/Get-Involved or call them at 1-405-607-8991.
Our thanks go to NBC News, Patricia Handschiegel (via her tumblr blog), Dan Soto (via Google +), and many others on Twitter for the various links. We will update this story with additional information and credible resources as we come across them.