How to Best Help

My department has gotten its hands on around $1000 that it wants to spend helping hurricane Katrina victims, but we can’t seem to agree on how.  If you had this money to donate, what would you do with it?

A little background on where the money came from.  There is a small grad run store where a few students buy food in bulk (microwave dinners, candy bars, pop… everything a grad student needs to run on) and then gives them a slight markup (mostly rounding to convient numbers) and sells them.  Generally this money is used for noble pursuits such as buying grad students beer on friday, but given the fact that one of our compatriots is from New Orleans we thought we might do something a little altruistic.

Current Ideas:

  • Donate the money to Red Cross or another national organization
  • Use the money for activities with the grad students who may be transferring to UCSC from affected areas (around 10-15 students)
  • Give the transferring students the money to have them replace some of the stuff they’ve lost
  • Find some yet unknown way of assuring that the money gets to people who need it most without bruecratic overhead

So… what do you think?

4 Responses to “How to Best Help”

That’s a wonderful opportunity to give a gift! I think donating the money to the Red Cross would help, but feel very impersonal and unrewarding (and very much of the money will never reach the people who need it). Just giving each transferring student like $40 would feel a little too pushy and pity-like for most people (even though in the best of all possible worlds, it would be the best way to help them start rebuilding).

I think you may be best served by spending it on activities for the transferring students– it doesn’t help them physically rebuild their lives, but I’m sure it would help them emotionally and socially rebuild, which can be even more important. Plus, maybe you’ll make a new friend or too. 🙂

Paradoxdruid - September 14th, 2005 at 11:26 am

I agree with Andrew. What the different support agencies need right now is hard cash. It can be easily transfered from site to site so that they can purchase what they need. Donate it as is and let the support agency use it as they see fit.

stephen - September 14th, 2005 at 3:31 pm

That’s really thoughtful of the graduate students in your department to want to donate around $1000 to Katrina victims. It is a really difficult thing to decide exactly how to help the victims with that money though — I’ve been thinking about the same thing lately, and haven’t decided on what exactly to do (though I wanted to give material goods, but realized the problem of transport really prevents this from being an efficient means of helping). If you want to help the victims in general, I’d just donate it to some affiliated group. You could use the money to arrange group activities with the local victims, as Andrew mentioned, but it’s really hard to conclude that this is the best way the money can benefit the victims. However, this might be a really good idea when considering they may already be receiving appreciable monetary aid from an organization (though I’ve actually heard this isn’t usually so), in which case they need something money can’t buy — a network of supportive people. (Has anybody heard much about the efficiency of money being given to Katrina victims? I’ve only heard NPR rumors…)

On a related note, I think that all people wanting to give, monetarily or otherwise, to Katrina victims should really recognize that there are people not only globally, but in the U.S., that _constantly_ need our help and support. I guess it just makes me mildly upset that it takes a disaster of this magnitude for people to realize that there are others that need their help… when in fact there are always others that need their help. There are a lot of good organizations/charities that always need donations to help those less fortunte than ourselves, and it shouldn’t take a disaster for us to become charitable.

Teisha - September 19th, 2005 at 8:27 pm

There’s another alternative when wanting to aid the hurricane relief efforts — one of my professors was rather proud to share that she had donated to an animal rescue organization. In some ways, the pet rescue groups have seemed more organized than the human ones…

Teisha - September 23rd, 2005 at 1:20 pm

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