Linda has been working hard to find the answer to a simple question: how can we help people from New Orleans? (The government wants you to send money to Pat Robertson to fund his pro-assassination ministry, but we'd rather not. I know I'll get pounded for saying this, but there are historical reasons not to embrace the Red Cross. And lots of cash donations get turned into profits for Wal-Mart, which seems inefficient)
I have been looking for ways to send stuff (not just money) to the people who need it. This seems to be very hard to do, as many of the large charities do not take material donations (except from large companies) and they discourage such giving. But it bothered me to know I had some perfectly good nearly new clothing for larger-sized women and no way to get it to people who had lost everything. In addition, with the number of discount stores around here it would be easy to put together care packages that would not cost a great deal.
So I gathered some stuff together and started looking for places to send it. So far, I've found one small group that is filling semi-trucks in Medford and taking them to Louisiana, and I have a call into a former work colleague who now lives in Dallas and is going to research evacuee needs in her area. I've also been prowling through sites such as craigslist, which has individual postings from people supporting individual shelters or families.
All in all, it is pretty fragmented, but check out Grace Davis's weblog.
This is one of the better resources I've come across -- two women who seem to be better organized than most of the government organizations and large charities. This is a modest blog with a long list of Mississippi shelters (and their addresses!!) and information on how to make large and small donations directly to those shelters to help their guests, plus info on which shippers are shipping to which zip codes. There are many other ways to help, but this seems to me to be a very useful starting point if you want to make a difference for people in Mississippi, which is one of the worst-hit areas.