Want to help with hurricane recovery? Here’s how to do it right.


Individual Virginians witnessing the devastation from these hurricanes through the media often want to help. But, it is important to know the best ways to get involved without risking your own economic or personal safety, and without causing additional burden to those areas receiving unsolicited aid. Want to help? Here’s how to do it right.


  • The most effective way to support communities impacted by these storms is to donate money and time to trusted, reputable non-profit charitable organizations.
  • Cash donations offer non-profit agencies flexibility to address urgent needs. These organizations can obtain needed resources nearer to the disaster location, not only getting needed supplies to those rebuilding after the storm, but also providing economic aid that helps local businesses from which these emergency supplies are purchased to recover faster.
  • Do not donate unsolicited goods such as used clothing, household items, medicine, or perishable foodstuffs. When used personal items are donated, the helping agencies must redirect their staff away from providing direct services to survivors in order to sort, package, transport, warehouse and distribute items that may not meet the needs of disaster survivors.
  • Donate through a trusted organization. At the national level, many voluntary-, faith- and community-based organizations are active in disasters and are trusted conduits through which you can donate to disaster survivors. Individuals, corporations and volunteers can learn more about how to help on the National Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster (NVOAD) website.


Volunteers should not self-deploy. Unexpected volunteers showing up in impacted areas will create an additional burden for first responders. NVOAD says the situation may not be conducive to volunteers entering the impacted zones and individuals may find themselves turned away by law enforcement.

  • Potential volunteers are asked to register with a voluntary or charitable organization of their choice, many of which are already deployed and supporting survivors on the ground. The NVOAD website is offering links to those who wish to register to volunteer with community- and faith-based organizations working in the field.
  • To ensure volunteer safety, as well as the safety of disaster survivors, volunteers should only go into affected areas with a specific volunteer assignment, proper safety gear and valid identification.
  • Volunteer generosity helps impacted communities heal from the tragic consequences of disasters, but recovery won’t happen overnight. There will be volunteer needs for many months, and years, after the disaster, so sign up now.