Over the past week, we have watched Hurricane Harvey reach landfall in the United States. The category 4 hurricane crashed into the Texas coast, devastating many families and businesses. At least two people have been reported dead, and estimates place the total cost of property damage and lost business in the tens of billions.
It is truly heartbreaking to watch the news and see the devastation. I know that many of you, like me, want to know what you can do to help out. But unfortunately, there are bad actors that will try to take advantage of this situation.
Here are a few tips to make sure your money goes to the right place. Be wary of personal solicitations over the phone. Make sure that gifts made by checks or credit card gifts are secure.
Don't send money by text or using apps without first verifying the organization and the contact information. If you do not want to donate online or by text, most organizations have alternatives, like donation forms that you can mail together with a check (never send cash through the mail). Check out the credentials of the organization before you donate. Charity Navigator is useful for gathering information about existing charities and has a Hurricane Harvey specific section. Make sure you keep records of your donations for tax purposes.
If you want to help but aren't sure where to start, some tax-exempt charities that have indicated they are accepting Harvey-specific donations include:
American Red Cross. To make a financial donation, visit the their website, call 1.800.RED CROSS or text HARVEY to 90999 to make a $10 donation for those in need.
Catholic Charities of USA. To make a financial donation, visit CCUSA's disaster-specific website or text 71777 to make a donation.
Hurricane Harvey Relief Fund. Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner has established the Hurricane Harvey Relief Fund that will accept tax deductible donations. The fund is administered by the Greater Houston Community Foundation, a 501(c)(3) public charity. To make a financial donation, visit the GHCF website.
Salvation Army. To make a financial donation, visit www.helpsalvationarmy.org, call 1.800.SAL ARMY, or text STORM to 51555.
United Way of Greater Houston has established a Flood Relief Fund to help with recovery needs of those most impacted. To give to the United Way Flood Relief Fund, visit unitedwayhouston.org/flood or text UWFLOOD to 41444.
Over the next few weeks and months I will be spending time out in the district meeting constituents and scheduling meetings with businesses and groups in the 59th District. I encourage you to contact my office if you have an issue or concern that I may be able to help assist with. I value the feedback you provide as it helps me do my job representing you better. You can email me at DelMFariss@virginia.house.gov or call me at (434)821-5929. You can also join the conversation on our social media page at www.facebook.com/DelegateMattFariss.