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Hurricane Irene: How to help

Messages and information about pet rescue is shown on the Humane Society's Twitter page.
Messages and information about pet rescue is shown on the Humane Society's Twitter page.

Several organizations are helping victims of Hurricane Irene. Here's how you can help:

  • The American Red Cross. You can use your cellphone to send donations of $10 via text message to the agency. Text the word REDCROSS to 90999. Donations can also be mailed to local Red Cross chapters, or to: American Red Cross, P.O. Box 37243, Washington, DC 20013. (For more information about getting help from the Red Cross, visit this site.)
  • The Salvation Army. Text the word"STORM" to 80888 to make a $10 donation via cellphone. Or, donate online or by phone: 1-800-SAL-ARMY.
  • The Humane Society of the United States is on Twitter, as well, with up-to-date info on pet and animal assistance, including shelters that are available in areas affected by Irene. You can donate by visiting the society's website.
  • AmeriCares, which provides emergency medicine and supplies, accepts donations on its website. Phone: 1-800-486-4357.
  • Habitat for Humanity, which helps rebuild homes, accepts donations on its website.
  • Feeding America is seeking volunteers to work in food banks. You can also donate money and learn more about volunteering here.
  • Operation Blessing provides disaster relief, food, water and medical supplies, and is based in Virginia Beach, Virginia.
  • Operation USA accepts online donations. You can make a $10 donation by sending a text message with the word AID to 50555. Phone: 1-800-678-7255.
  • Direct Relief, which provides "Hurricane Preparation Packs" of medicine and medical supplies, is accepting donations on its website. Phone: 805-964-4767.
  • Microsoft Disaster Response. "While the impacts of Hurricane Irene will become more clear in the coming days, Microsoft is actively involved in preparations and providing support for customers, partners, local government, and nonprofit agencies," the company says on the site. ( is a joint venture of Microsoft and NBC Universal.)
  •  Food Bank for Greater New York food program locator to donate extra food and water you stocked up on in anticipation of Hurricane Irene.

Guidance for you

To help you make decisions about donations, one website to use as a resource is Charity Navigator, a non-profit organization that has information on more than 5,000 charities and evaluates the groups' financial health.

And while giving is good, beware of those out there who are not good and are trying to scam you by taking your money over the Internet and using e-mail. The Federal Trade Commission"cautions that scammers may try to take advantage of a disaster, and so consumers should be wary of urgent appeals for charitable donations, and watch out for fraudulent home repair schemes after a storm."

You can read more about avoiding home repair rip-offs and charity fraud from the FTC.

Also, the FBI, on its Facebook page, reminds folks "to beware of fraudulent e-mails and websites claiming to conduct charitable relief efforts. Disasters prompt individuals with criminal intent to solicit contributions purportedly for a charitable organization or a good cause," and suggests reading "Tips on Avoiding Fraudulent Charitable Contribution Schemes" to learn more about avoiding online fraud.

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