“The rain has poured down nonstop since Friday. I’m lucky to be safe and dry, but I worry for the thousands of others who are not as fortunate—particularly many of my students,” writes a Houston teacher in The New York Times.
While it’s back to school for most of the country, in Texas, the historic Hurricane Harvey has shuttered hundreds of schools districts until after Labor day, or in many cases indefinitely. And now dozens of Louisiana districts are in the storm’s path as well.
Teachers and students who have returned to the classroom are no doubt asking how they can help.
DonorsChoose, a website that helps teachers fundraise for classroom projects, has set up a Hurricane Harvey Recovery fund, which is gaining traction quickly. The fund “will help teachers rebuild and restock their classrooms with materials like books, furniture, classroom supplies, technology, and therapy resources,” according to the site, and it’s raised nearly $600,000 as of Wednesday afternoon.
The National Education Association Foundation, the philanthropic arm of the teachers’ union, is taking contributions for public school teachers and their families who’ve been affected personally by the storm. “Estimates are that as many as one-third of NEA members in Texas have been impacted or will be in the days to come,” the page states. “In many cases, they’ve lost cars and homes or sustained other serious property damage.”
The American Federation of Teachers also has a disaster relief fund set up, and the Texas AFT is accepting money for members in need as well.
Teachers may also be interested in participating in an effort called KidLit Cares, run by popular children’s book author Kate Messner. She’s wrangled the children’s literature community to help auction off Skype and in-person visits with authors, signed books, and virtual writing workshops, with the proceeds going to the Red Cross. There are more than 200 items up for auction so far. (Also, see my colleague Kate Stolzfus’ piece about how a Houston teacher is using Facebook to encourage students to read as they wait out the storm.)
It’s important to remember that if you’re far away and looking to give, as of right now, money is probably the best way to go. Schools and communities are still assessing their needs and, at times, well-meaning donations of physical goods can actually hinder relief efforts. (In emergency management, this is known as the “second disaster.”)
Charity Navigator has a list of groups that are accepting donations for the storm (and ratings for each one).
Image: Floodwaters from Tropical Storm Harvey flow in the Buffalo Bayou area of downtown Houston on Aug. 28.—LM Otero/AP
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A version of this news article first appeared in the Teacher Beat blog.