LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (KTHV) -- Arkansans are some of the most giving people out there.
So many of you want to find a way to help those in need, especially in the wake of natural disasters like in Houston. But, volunteers in Houston are begging for people to stop giving certain items. They said it's causing logistical problems throughout Houston.
Lynn Pharr is the current CEO of the Central Arkansas United Way. Before her current role, she was the Director of National Preparedness, Response and Recovery for United Way nationally. She said in her experience, the massive influx of clothes and tangible goods creates a logistical nightmare in affected areas.
“It begins to create the disaster within a disaster because you have volunteers looking around for the match of a size seven shoe or trying to dig and find all the clothes for six month old babies,” she said. “We’re really having to recreate what you would find in a department store and using our volunteer strength to do that.”
She said monetary donations allow much needed flexibility. It also saves the actual giver the cost of transporting or shipping and it gets on the ground to those who need it much quicker. Ken Sutterfield, Regional Resource Development Director for the Central Arkansas Salvation Army, said he agrees that monetary donations are much better to give than tangible donations like clothing.
“The immensity of it creates a second disaster because there is so much to deal with,” he said. “Right now volunteers are trying to be on the front lines to take care of immediate needs and there just isn't the space and personnel to do distribution.”
Other volunteers in Houston told THV11 that the greatest need they have right now is food. They said the best thing you can do to help them is give gift cards so people can buy food for themselves. Or, you can donate money to organizations with volunteers in Houston, so they can get food for others.
The food shortage is the reason the Arkansas Baptist State Convention Disaster Relief group sent a mobile kitchen that can serve up to 30,000 meals to Houston. There, volunteers will prepare and cook meals for people staying at a convention center in the heart of Houston. Randy Garrett with the Arkansas Baptist State Convention said their crews and other organization need monetary donations to help provide food and other immediate needs.
“We can do a lot more with that money in the short run and in the beginning stages of the disaster,” he said. “Physical donations have a great place later in the disaster, but aren’t best right now.”
Since it could take years for people to fully recover from this disaster, Garrett said he recommends people keep up with their favorite nonprofits to see what the different needs are over time.