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From Our Archive
This story was published before Summer 2021, when we launched our new digital experience.

The Charities Making an Impact This Holiday Season

How to help the many victims of this year's natural disasters


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2017 has been a year of tragedies of many kinds around the world: Earthquakes, floods, tornadoes, hurricanes, and wildfires have taken lives, homes, and businesses, changing the future irreparably for thousands of people.

Local, national, and international organizations are seeking funds to continue their work, and in the spirit of generosity, many people have made donations or plan to support worthy causes that bring aid to areas in need. As you make decisions about where to direct donations this holiday season, you want to know that your dollars will truly help those in need. Charity Navigator, America’s largest independent charity watchdog, evaluates and rates charities based on their financial health, accountability, and transparency, with the goal of helping donors make informed decisions.

One organization rated highly by Charity Navigator is Direct Relief, which provides medical assistance to people affected by disaster and poverty. Donors can specify which cause they wish to support or they can allow the organization to decide where funds are needed most. Givers are also able to set up monthly donations, recognizing that the effects of these tragic events continue long after they disappear from the headlines.

In addition to Direct Relief, there are plenty of other reputable organizations aiding individuals and families in need. Read on for a short list of the best groups to donate this season.

Mexico Earthquakes

The Global Giving Mexico Earthquake Relief Fund is providing food, water, shelter, and medicine for immediate help as well as long-term assistance in recovery and rebuilding after two major earthquakes. All donations to this fund will support relief efforts through local organizations. Global Giving posts reports about how funds are used and e-mails them to donors.

Hurricane Harvey

The Houston Food Bank is providing food and supplies for residents of southeast Texas who are struggling to rebuild their lives after the heavy rainfall, damaging winds, and storm surge that devastated the Gulf coast and Houston areas this year. The Food Bank works closely with partner agencies to coordinate needed services.

Hurricane Irma

ShelterBox USA provides emergency shelter for displaced families, either by rebuilding if resources are available, or by providing tents for temporary housing. Their teams in the Caribbean are working with several humanitarian organizations to evaluate needs and deliver emergency shelter to the residents of the islands affected by the hurricane.

Hurricane Maria

Project Hope, a leader in global health development and emergency relief programs, has sent emergency response teams to Puerto Rico and other areas affected by Hurricane Maria. The teams, consisting of doctors, nurses, mental health specialists, and nurse practitioners, are addressing residents’ health needs related to the severe flooding, damage to homes, and loss of power.

Napa and Sonoma California Wildfires

The Redwood Empire Food Bank is supplying food to shelters for families displaced by wildfires, in addition to continuing their ongoing community food assistance. As the largest hunger-relief organization serving northern coastal California, they have provided food for the nearly 100,000 persons evacuated from fire areas.


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