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5 Ways You Can Make a Difference



"A Measure of A Life Is It's Service." - General Sam Houston



It's been only days since Hurricane Harvey made us bunker down and take shelter, but so many are already eager to get out and help. Every where you look, there's help, and sometimes "too much" help. So how can you find a way to make a real difference in Texas?


1. See a Need, Fill a Need.
I'm not sure if I was the only one, but I felt a little overwhelmed when I was finally able to get out and help. A friend and I went to the store to pick up some hygiene and feminine products to take to a local church in Katy, but upon arriving, we were told they had already reached full capacity. Thankfully we found another church down the street that was still accepting donations, but as I entered the room, I realized there were so many more bags of clothes than toiletries, food and supplies. I am not discounting the donation of clothes, it is something everyone needs, but when you see a need, you fill a need, right? If there is no need for clothes, what else is there? Below is a short list of things we may take for granted, but many of the people who have been displaced will need:

-Socks
-Underwear (Men, Women, Children)
-Hygiene Products
-Baby Supplies

Of course there are more items, but these main four have been popping up on my newsfeed a lot. 

One thing to remember about donating is that the needs will change. Right now they are looking to stay clean, dry, and fed, with clothes on their back. In a few weeks it will be cleaning and remodeling supplies, or even legal assistance. 


2. Help Thy Neighbor.
Sometimes it is hard clicking on a link and donating your hard earned money to an organization where you may never see the end result. Then I started seeing people I grew up with, people I went to school with... car less, home less, everything gone. I know these people. The family down the street that suffered 4-5 feet of water damage in their house, while thankfully it only got up to your steps. The friends who are struggling even harder because they can't get to work, and rent is due. So many small things we can do by giving rides, cooking meals or just inviting family over for a game night because they are dealing with so much. It doesn't have to be big to start close to home.


3. Be an Online Warrior.
Social media can catch a bad rep, but when it comes to directing people to donations, shelters, rescue boats, you name it, social media was there. Countless people are busy behind the scenes getting lists and spreadsheets together to distribute to those in need. Groups popped up for people to connect with others on what their exact needs were, meeting points were established for drop off, restaurants and local businesses were updating constantly on their operational hours and donation locations. I couldn't go more than two posts with out it pertaining to helping in some way. From just sharing posts to helping run a Facebook group, every bit counts.


4. Stock Up.
I've adopted a new mantra, and I don't care if it sounds cheesy, but this will be a marathon, not a sprint. My heart has been heavy, but full with all of the out pouring of volunteers and donations. I doubt I'm the only one that fears this will go away with time. The water will recede and people will go back to work. But that's when the reality sets in to those really effected, and that's when they will need us again. So, we need to be ready. Stock up on sales, coupons, anything you can, and donate when there is a need, because there will be for a very, very long time. 


5. Find Your Niche.
There are always people who need help, so where do you start? You start with you. Start with what you are passionate about, and something you really want to help make a difference in. For me, I found my niche with Sex Trafficking in Houston, working with local organizations such as Free The Captives, Elijah Rising and Rescue Houston. In addition, the past two days I have been helping SAFE k9 Transport and Austin Pets Alive in Katy, TX to rescue animals from the flooded homes and shelters, and getting them safely to Austin where they have the opportunity to be reunited with their owners, or adopted. I had no idea the effect those two days were going to have on me. So many emotions seeing these animals, but then seeing all of the help. All of the people who were thanking us and bringing us food and water. I now have such a connection with those organizations that I am sure I will be doing this for years to come. 




A Friendly Reminder:
Please be extra kind to strangers. I myself struggle with not getting annoyed when someone takes forever to check out, messes up an order, runs late or is not professional. But every single person I know has been effected by this hurricane one way or another. And no, I don't know all 6.5 million of us, but I'd bet it's effected them as well. You have no idea what other people are going through, and even if you do, that should be another reason to be kind. Be compassionate. Be patient. Our whole city is healing, so let's heal together. 



That's it for now,

Mal















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