Along the Tracks

Thursday, September 01, 2005

Hurricane Katrina/Flood Aid

There are so many charities out there working to assist the survivors of Hurricane Katrina. My own choices and judgments are based on nothing more (or less) than personal experience.

I grew up in a Lutheran household and went to a Lutheran school. Thus, I’ve seen the work done by Lutheran charities, and their efforts and results are among the best. Locally in northwest Ohio, Lutheran Social Services has been a rock for those in need from all faiths and backgrounds for decades. LSS is affiliated with Lutheran Services in America, which is mobilizing its partners to help the people of Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama during the crisis and, I have no doubt, well beyond these first weeks. I encourage you to visit the site and donate whatever you can.

If you are a Lutheran or have family members who are Lutheran, you are probably familiar with the community support efforts of Thrivent Financial (formerly Aid Association for Lutherans). Thrivent’s programs include matching donations for a variety of charitable projects organized by local members and churches. This doubles the impact of local participation and can really produce results which change lives for the better. In this latest crisis, Thrivent is matching its members’ Katrina donations to Lutheran charities. If you or someone in your family is a Thrivent member, please make your donations through this non-profit financial group to Lutheran charities. Thrivent will match those dollars and your generosity will be doubled.

Finally, let me encourage you to make a donation to the American Red Cross. The Red Cross has at times come under criticism for its fundraising efforts and its choices in using excess funds for relief efforts other than the original trouble which brought donors aboard. In some ways, this is unfair. Red Cross donations rise and fall with each disaster the media chooses to spotlight, yet its relief mission is constant. Local floods, fires, tornadoes and other small-scale catastrophes take up a great deal of the resources the Red Cross receives in donations. Yet these same daily needs rarely receive the kind of media hype which results in a widespread urge to donate. Also, one must remember it takes substantial resources to make preparations to respond to large-scale events like Katrina. Without the months and even years of training, the development of plans, the acquisition of materials and transportation and the hiring and holding of experienced staff, the Red Cross would not be able to jump into action at little or no notice as it has done time and again. The generosity of the American people may well go beyond the ultimate financial expenses incurred by the Red Cross in response to Katrina’s aftermath. Yet, unfortunately, there will be other disasters, large and small, and we all will expect to see that Red Cross symbol on the scene giving aid and comfort to one family or 100,000 families. Their work is vital and it is good. Give to the American Red Cross.

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