September FitPicks + 10 Ways You Can Help the Victims of Hurricane Harvey

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Well, I’m back! I took the month of August and half of July off from posting to the blog in order to spend as much undistracted time with my family this summer. While a little break was nice, I’m so glad to be back at it again and I have some HUGE things planned and some BIG announcements that I can’t wait to share with you all! While there is so much good happening in my life right now [and I’d typically take a FitPick post to have a virtual coffee date with you and fill you in on everything in my life], my heart is burdened right now and just so heavy with the weight of Hurricane Harvey and its affects on my state.

One week ago, today, Hurricane Harvey made landfall on the Texas coast as a category 4 hurricane. The initial impact of the storm ripped through our coastal cities like Port Aransas, Corpus Christie and Rockport – devastating everything in its path. The storm was so strong that even inner-laying cities like Victoria sustained unimaginable damage. Over the weekend I was in Austin [a 3-7 hour drive from the cities I just mentioned] and the winds and rain were fierce enough there to uproot trees and take away power to many homes in the area. If that’s what we experienced with the tiniest outlying bands of the storm, I can’t imagine the terror that came to the cities to our South in the moments of impact.

The hurricane was horrendous, but it’s what came along with it that has caused the most heart wrenching devastation. Hurricane Harvey sat and rotated around one area, bringing severe weather, tornadoes and torrential rains, of which the amounts have never been experienced in modern history. The flooding in South Texas is unprecedented, requiring the rescue and recovery of thousands of people and even more homes that are now inhabitable. The city of Houston [the 4th largest city in the US] is under water and the metroplex is in a crisis like we’ve never seen before. It’s so very close to home – I have friends and family who needed rescue, who are still stuck in their homes and who lost everything. I have friends who have grabbed their fishing boats and have pulled people from their roofs to safety. While I’ve seen devastation, I’m proud to say that the darkness is accompanied by resilience and compassion and an entire state of people who jumped into service mode to help and comfort others in their time of need.

This month’s FitPicks reflect what’s heaviest on my heart right now… Hurricane Harvey and its effect on my great State of Texas. The colors reflect exactly what Texas is seeing right now… Our hearts are blue and the skies are grey, but you’ll see there are pops of yellow too. Even though the sun has not come out yet, the resilience and strength of the people of Texas and their selflessness ways of coming together to rescue and provide comfort for the victims is the ray of sunshine in a dark time.

I’m just a 3 hour drive away from the wreckage and my family is safe and dry in my home with all of our belongings inside. I feel so helpless in this situation and I want to serve in any way I can! B and I took donations to a drop off location and I signed up to volunteer at our local evacuation site. Whether you’re in Texas or not, you can help the victims of Hurricane Harvey. Here are 10 easy ways to do so.

10 Ways You Can Help the Victims of Hurricane Harvey

1. Donate Money

Although donating money feels impersonal and as if that’s just the easiest thing to do, it’s actually the very best way to provide help to those affected in the long term. When donated correctly, monetary donations allow for response and aid groups to allocate the funds according to need. The problem with donating money is that you have to ensure you’re donating to the right place where 100% goes to the victims. That is  why I only recommend donating to The Red Cross or the Salvation Army [or your local church].

click here to donate to The Red Cross
click here to donate to The Salvation Army
click here to donate to my church’s Harvey Relief Fund

2. Volunteer

Thousands of people will be flooding into the cities surrounding Houston. I know that Dallas has an evacuation center set up at the Kay Bailey Hutchison Convention Center and they’re expecting hundreds of evacuees over the next few days. Volunteers must be approved beforehand and will be contacted on an as-needed basis. You can also volunteer with Trusted World by helping sort through donations.

click here to sign up as a volunteer at an evacuation center
click here to volunteer with Trusted World

3. Foster an Animal

Between all the animals that were in the Houston and Coastal City shelters and the animals that were left behind or lost in the chaos of the floods and storms, the surrounding shelters are vastly overbooked. I adopted my dog, Pudge, who was left behind when Hurricane Ike hit and it was the best thing I did. If you have the space in your house and in your heart, PLEASE serve through loving an animal through fostering or adopting! Can’t take an animal in? Donate to the Animal Defense League of Texas – They’re providing food and supplies to local shelters and evacuees!

click here for more information on fostering from the SPCA of Texas
click here to foster an animal through Austin Pets Alive!
click here to donate to the Animal Defense League of Texas

4. Drop off Donations

You can drop off donations at several different local businesses around your city, I’m sure, but if you’re in Dallas, they will all end up at Trusted World or on busses headed to Houston. Right now, the biggest needs are blankets, underwear and socks, basic clothes, toiletries, feminine care products, diapers and baby formula, non-perishable food items that are sealed [do not make food, yourself] and water bottles.

Trusted World Donation Drop Off – 15660 North Dallas Parkway, Dallas
click here to learn more about Trusted World and what is needed most

5. Spread the Word to Others

Tell everyone you know to text “HARVEY” to 90999. That is the easiest way to donate $10 to The Red Cross Hurricane Harvey Relief efforts. Also, if you hear of a cool ay that a local business is giving back, share it on your social media! The more people who know, the better!

6. Participate in Local Fundraisers

Here’s a list of Dallas restaurants and businesses that are doing what they can to help.

7. Collect School Supplies for School Districts Outside of Houston

Since Houston is the 4th largest city in the US, you can imagine the number of students who will have to all of the sudden start school in another city. Drop off school supplies at your local ISD so that they can provide supplies to the new students who will be joining the schools at the last minute! I know Dallas ISD is preparing for hundreds of new students!

8. Collect Gift Cards for Displaced Families

The displaced families are only at the very beginning of a what is sure to be a long, hard road ahead. Many lost everything. Gift cards to local restaurants and grocery stores will help them over the next few months as they work to recover and rebuild their lives. The last thing they need to think about is what’s for dinner.

9. Reach Out

Know someone who lives in the cities hit the hardest? Have friends in Texas who are closer to the situation than you? Reach out to them. Ask how you can help. Send an encouraging word, venmo $30 for dinner [or wine] and continue to check in.

10. Pray

The State of Texas could use your prayers right now. Prayer is, to me, the best way that a helpless individual can help. Prayer moves mountains and can part the flood waters. This article states it best:

“As Christ followers, our first inclination in times of struggle and strife should be to fix our eyes not on the disaster itself, but on the God who promises His steady presence throughout it. When we find ourselves slipping into dangerous patterns of worry on behalf of those in need, prayer is our best and surest remedy.

Feel free to share this list to anyone you know that may be inspired to help in any way. Though our hearts are blue and the skies are grey, the sun will shine again. Thank God for the people in this great state and may God continue to bless Texas!

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