NEW HANOVER COUNTY, NC (WECT) – A week ago, Hurricane Sandy made landfall and devastated parts of the northeast. It seems like everyone is looking to help out. So far, the American Red Cross has taken in nearly $85 million so far.
"It's a phenomenal American tradition," said Chris Nelson, Executive Director of United Way of the Cape Fear Area. "It's just something about Americans after a disaster that they have to do something."
The desire to help could do more harm than good, according to Nelson. While people have the best intentions to help, items like clothes and canned goods come with more work for volunteers to sort, clean and distribute them. He suggests families donate money to recognized relief agencies to best help victims.
"If we're sending stuff up there that they didn't ask for, we're complicating their environment," he said. "We're making it difficult for them to recover"
Vicki LaBelle, Executive Director of American Red Cross Cape Fear Chapter, echoed the benefits of monetary donations in the early stages of storm recovery. Volunteers can spend the money on what people need most, and they can do it locally, according to LaBelle.
"That helps to re-stimulate the economy where the community is suffering," she said.
Neither of these organizations want to deter anyone supporting the relief effort, but they suggest waiting on send supplies when state officials call for them. Nelson mentioned that church groups are a good place to turn for volunteer work and donations. He said most faiths have a national organization that responds to disasters, so they would know what items are needed in specific areas.
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