Disaster Relief Can Take Many Different Forms

Most of you have probably heard of Samaritan’s Purse. They are a Christian-based international relief agency located in Boone, North Carolina.

Their president is Franklin Graham, son of the late evangelist Billy Graham. The humanitarian aid organization has been around for nearly 50 years.

The agency has a new initiative called Team Patriot. It’s made up of U.S. veterans who were wounded in service and now want to serve again.

They do exactly that. In fact, just recently they were involved with rebuilding and repairing homes in Pearland and Rockport, Texas. Those homes were damaged by Hurricane Harvey in 2017.

Vets Go From Fighting to Building

Graham said, “It’s incredible to see how these veterans who have gotten help (for injuries) are now helping others.”

Graham is very familiar with wounded vets. His son, Edward, was wounded while on active duty in 2007 in Iraq. The West Point grad and Army Ranger took shrapnel in his arms, leg and back.

“They fought for our country overseas, and now they’re building up our country at home,” Graham added.

“These veterans truly are our heroes. They deserve our deepest respect and gratitude.”

‘A Sense of Purpose’

One veteran who serves with Team Patriot is Robert Bogus III. The Marine Corps sergeant endured a double traumatic brain injury, post-traumatic stress disorder and spinal injuries.

During a deployment in Iraq, an explosion destroyed his vehicle, and he was told he’d never walk again.

From bed-ridden to a wheelchair to a walker and finally walking again, he proved them wrong.

“Being able to serve others in the community, it gives me a sense of purpose again,” he said.

Young People Pitching In

We frequently see stories about adults helping other adults. But it’s especially refreshing to see stories about young people reaching out to others as well.

Last month, a group of 36,000 young folks gathered in St. Louis, Missouri to attend the North American Youth Conference.

Students filled two semi-trailers with buckets containing relief supplies for communities that have been struck with natural disasters.

This hits close to home for many people in the Midwest. Especially farmers who are still trying to deal with the massive flooding that occurred during the spring.

Good Samaritan Sends 100+ Generators to Stranded Survivors

With all the negative stories being reported in the news, it’s nice to see some good things now and then.

One act that definitely meets that standard is what an unnamed man in Jacksonville, Florida did recently.

He purchased more than 100 small generators at about $450 apiece. Why? To send to people in the Bahamas who are stranded without power due to Hurricane Dorian. He also got food to send as well.

Another man in the store who saw what was happening posted this good deed to social media. It was shared 17,000 times in three hours.

The post read: “Was just in Costco… and this guy right here is getting over 100 generators and food to send to the Bahamas! All I could do was shake his hand and thank him. There still are good people in the world!”

Donate… But Be Careful

You may be moved to contribute to disaster relief for victims of Hurricane Dorian and other recent extreme weather events.

If so, Forbes magazine has some suggestions. They include:

  • Most relief organizations prefer monetary donations rather than food and other items. They know what the greatest needs are and they can steer donations in those directions. Keep receipts if you intend to use those donations on your tax return.
  • Don’t get fooled. Unfortunately, there are scam artists out there trying to take advantage of people’s generosity. Make your contributions via checks and cards to secure sites. Do some research to make sure the group you’re donating to is legitimate.
  • Your donations to individuals may be helpful to them, but generally they are not tax deductible. As a general rule, stick with qualified tax-exempt charitable groups.
  • Donations to foreign groups are also generally not tax deductible here in the U.S.
  • When choosing a group for donations, agencies that have been around for a while might be a better choice. A new group could be reliable, but they may not have as much infrastructure in place yet to make sure that a high percentage of your donation is going to the right place. And, of course, some “new” organizations are scams.
  • As noted before, be sure to document your contributions and keep receipts. There are a number of IRS rules pertaining to tax-deductible donations, so stay up to date on them. Contact the group itself if you have questions about this.

Donating in Different Ways

Whether you’re donating your time, supplies or funds, there’s nothing better than helping others in need.

Of course, we want to be smart about it. But we also want to do the right thing. Someday we may be the ones who need help from a stranger.

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