Many of us are eager to help victims of Hurricane Harvey. Here are some tips on the best places to donate and volunteer - and what NOT to give.
Donate money through a trusted organization. You can find out more about a particular charity's efficiency and effectiveness using your donations at Charity Navigator or CharityWatch. Each site has set up a special page with Hurricane Harvey suggestions. Look for organizations with the highest percentage of their funds going to actual programs and services (at least 75%), as opposed to administrative and fundraising expenses.
Items such as food, clothing, and toiletries should only be collected if you have a confirmed recipient at the disaster site willing and able to receive them. Otherwise, volunteers will be pulled away from essential services to sort, transfer, store, and distribute items that might not even be needed by disaster victims. Then you get a mess like the one pictured below - often such items will ultimately be discarded in an area already overwhelmed by debris from the disaster. Here's a link to the 10 Worst Things to Donate After a Disaster - with explanations why and suggestions of what to do instead with those items.
If you want to volunteer to help on site, contact existing non-profit organizations BEFORE heading to the disaster area. Get appropriate training, and be sure it is safe to travel (and you have some place to stay and eat) before going into the area. Otherwise, you might just get in the way. Remember, assistance will be needed long after the storm is over and the media is gone, so there will be plenty of opportunities for service later after you've been trained to best help. Here is a link to Texas Voluntary Organizations Active in Disasters.
For more information, see Volunteer & Donate Responsibly at the Federal Emergency Management Agency website: https://www.fema.gov/volunteer-donate-responsibly.