We are all heartbroken for the folks in Houston who have lost their homes and so much more in the historic floods. So what can we do to help? I’ve compiled some ways to help Houston from people who live there. Send me more as you find them!

Hint: don't send clothes

Send money

Sending money is always the best idea, so that people on the ground can buy what is needed.

Some folks are down on The American Red Cross, but they are still one of the biggest and best prepared to swoop in after a natural disaster. If you want to do some background reading (which you should do prior to donating to any charity) check out some of these stories promoted by Pro Publica.

Anna Coffey Dragsbeek, CEO of The Women’s Home in Houston, recommends these local Houston charities as ethical, responsible stewards of relief money:

1. BakerRipley: This is one of the most effective organizations when it comes to community building and community development. And they also specialize in disaster relief. Right now they are managing a 10,000 bed shelter that they organized in 6 hours. Yes, you read that right, 6 hours.

2. The Women’s Home: This is the organization for which I am privileged to serve as CEO. We help homeless women and their families recover their lives. Our projects include a substance use treatment facility, 171 units of permanent supportive housing for homeless women and their families, and a community center to meet the behavioral heath and social support needs for a low income community in Houston. As you might imagine, this population is particularly vulnerable at this time. We humbly ask for your support so that we can serve all of the immense needs that our clients will encounter in the weeks and months ahead.

3. Vecino Health Centers: This is a low cost clinic that supplies Cadillac care to some of our city’s most needy. They will be a key partner in the coming months for keeping our community healthy.

4. The Council on Recovery: This is a wonderful charity that provides counseling services for those who have experienced substance use disorders. They offer almost all of their services on a sliding scale and have one of the most progressive and thoughtful approaches to supporting those who suffer from this debilitating disease. For that population, this storm has been particularly traumatic.

5. Citizens for Animal Protection: This is a wonderful no-kill animal shelter and does amazing work to connect animals to the humans they lost or to new forever homes. One of our dogs adopted us from there.

Don’t send used clothing

Yes, people will need clothing. But right now, no organization has the resources to sort through donations and distribute them. Don’t believe me? Watch this.

If you must send stuff, make sure it is the stuff that is needed and not something that is going to just cause more headaches for the recipients. This crowd-sourced list of charities in the Houston area, along with their current needs and phone numbers, should help you figure this out.

Do send new underwear

Dr. Brené Brown, noted author and expert on courage, vulnerability, shame, and empathy, is based in Houston and has been sharing her stories on Facebook and Instagram. She posted the following:

Here are three ways to give NEW (still in package) underwear. Please keep in mind that we need a variety of sizes for men, women, boys, and girls, including XXL.

1. https://www.amazon.com/…/2O89ZX93O…/ref=nav_wishlist_lists_1

2. Collect new, packaged underwear and mail it to the address below. It’s our local Hillel and they are collecting for us. This is a really great neighborhood or school project. If you’re purchasing, we recommend Hanes or Fruit of the Loom. UFE doesn’t process or give out anything but underwear!
Undies for Everyone
1700 Bissonnet St.
Houston, TX 77005

3. Give cash and Undies for Everyone will purchase wholesale: https://secure.lglforms.com/form_e…/s/uFpr61ITEItxPeN4Lo9zpA

Donate Frequent Flyer Miles, or Get Miles for a Cash Donation

I don’t know about you, but I sign up for every frequent flyer program out there. As a result I have tiny  stores of miles with some pretty random airlines. I will probably never fly some of those airlines again, so I may as well donate my miles.

Southwest is an airline that I love and fly whenever I can, so I have a few miles with them. They have also made it very easy to donate miles to the rescue and cleanup efforts in Houston through donations of Rapid Rewards points to the American Red Cross. Keep in mind that donations of points are not tax deductible in the same way that cash is.

Other airlines, like American, United, and Delta, are offering bonus miles to people who donate to the Red Cross through their portals.

More ways to help Houston

Reach out to friends who live there and offer shelter, money, love – whatever they need. Ask them what they need. Listen to the answer.

If you have other charities to recommend, add them in comments or email me and I will add them as they come in.