8 Ways You Can Help After A Tragedy (Even When You're Broke)

8 Ways You Can Help After A Tragedy (Even When You're Broke)

Yes, it IS possible!
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Earlier this month, a local nightclub turned their weekly "Wet and Wild" contest into an incredible fundraising opportunity. All of the money bid on contestants that night was donated to help the victims of Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico. I was ready and eager to make a contribution myself until I pulled out my wallet and realized... I'm broke.

Okay, so that wasn't actually a new realization. I lost my job two months ago, and am still searching high and low for a new one. I'm also a full-time student whose financial aid has yet to disburse, and already have about four years of student debt on my tail. I've been paying for my groceries for weeks with gift cards I earned doing surveys online in between homework and filling out job applications. Even that same night my boyfriend offered to pay my cover charge for the club because he knew I wouldn't be able to afford it.

But despite all that, I still know with a heavy heart that many of those who were affected by any of the current disasters that have struck our world - whether it be a hurricane, a fire, or a shooting - were in a way worse position than I was. So, how could I help? I wasn't really sure at first, which is why I went home and compiled this list of 8 ways you can help those in need without emptying your pockets.


1.) Give what you DO have.

I may not have ample amounts of cash to hand over to disaster victims. But, you know what I do have? A large bag full of old clothes I've been meaning to take to the thrift store. A box of non-perishable pasta mix that I forgot to read the allergy label on before I bought it. An extra towel in the bathroom cupboard, right beside that unopened box of tampons I'll likely never need again. Some garbage bags that were too small to fit our kitchen trashcan. All of these items were on the list provided by United Puerto Rico of material donations needed by victims of the Puerto Rico hurricane. There were also plenty of other common, household items on the list too including diapers, dish soap, extension cords, and pillows. In Oregon, they are also currently seeking donations for supplies to help rebuild the homes and communities lost to the Grant County wildfire. Some items on the wishlist organized by Fairgrounds Relief Center include hoses, hand tools, shovels, axes, power tools, generators, hammers, and light bulbs. If you've got an extra something lying around, consider donating what you have to disaster victims who can't currently get a hold of these items.

2.) Donate blood.

Whether there was a natural disaster or an act of violence, acts of devastation often leave many people injured without enough resources to help everyone. Following the recent terrorist attack in Las Vegas, for example, over 500 people are reported to be in need of medical attention. If you are close enough to the Las Vegas area and meet the necessary criteria, you can donate your blood to those in need. Bloodworks, a popular blood bank with locations throughout the Northwest, currently has twelve offices open Tuesday - Sunday for those who can donate blood to the Las Vegas victims. If you are able to donate, you can sign up for an appointment at the office nearest you via the Bloodworks website, or by calling 1-800-398-7888.

3.) Watch out for their furry friends.

Are you an animal lover? Have room for a few extra paws at your place? Consider fostering animals whose families are struggling after a tragedy. Shelters in Texas are overflowing with thousands of pets who were not allowed in hotels, had to be left behind, or somehow got out during Hurricane Harvey. The SPCA of Texas and Austin Pets Alive are both seeking foster homes for all these new arrivals. According to Austin Pets Alive, the amount of dogs currently in their care have tripled! If some belly scratches and a few park dates with Fido sound right up your alley, check out the websites above for information on how you can get involved in fostering pets affected by Harvey.

4.) Use your time.

Not everyone lives close enough to physically help out after an area has been struck by tragedy. But, if you do, one of the best ways to lend a hand is to literally lend a hand. Especially if you have a certain skill that can be useful in times of need. In Mexico City, for example, there is currently a demand for volunteers with experience in architecture and medical care after the recent earthquake. Even if you aren't nearby after disasters strike, do a search for any groups or events in your area that are dedicated to providing assistance. Schools, churches, and community centers are great places to start. They may need volunteers for an already planned fundraiser, or even just an extra word-of-mouth. If all else fails, try organizing something on your own! Even if you don't have the funds to donate yourself, your friends, family, or community may be willing to pitch in if you get the ball rolling.

5.) Give up your airline miles.

Are you a frequent flier? If so, you may be able to donate some of the miles you have racked up. There are many disaster victims who cannot afford to leave these areas to get to a safer place. Delta, United, American Airlines, Southwest, and other major airlines have programs set up where members can donate existing miles via a charity program, who will then in turn give those miles to those in need. Some of these programs do have a mile-minimum, so be sure to check with your airline loyalty program to see if you are eligible to help.

6.) Open up your doors...

If you have an extra bed, you may be able to offer the space up to someone in need. The companies AirBNB and HipCamp are working with those in certain areas to provide free, temporary housing to those in disaster zones. If you are in certain areas of Florida, Alabama, Texas, or the Carolinas, you can list your home on AirBNB for free to those left without shelter from the hurricanes. If you are in California in the areas of Berkeley, Oakland, San Francisco, Marin, Mendocino, or North Alameda, the AirBNB option is also available to help those who cannot return home following the fires in Sonoma, Napa, and Mendocino counties. Also in California, you can get in contact with the staff at HipCamp and let them know if you are able to host those in need of a place to stay.

7.) ... And your Wi-Fi Connections

Emergency services in Mexico City are asking people near the areas affected by the earthquake to make their private wi-fi connections public. Why? The Internet is one of the strongest means of communication that we have today. An open access point to the Internet could help people find their missing loved ones, shelter, transportation, or access to emergency services if needed. A similar request was made last year following the devastating earthquake in Italy, after locals realized phone lines were down yet many still had ways to access the Internet if given an open wi-fi connection nearby. Check out this article to see how to open up your networks safely, so your good deed does not get taken advantage of by the wrong crowd.

8.) Share, share, share!


If you're reading this, I'm going to have to assume you've got access to the Internet in some form. Believe it or not, your presence on social media can actually be extremely helpful following a tragedy. After the terrorist attack at the Ariana Grande concert in Manchester earlier this year, this Twitter thread with information on those who went missing was re-tweeted almost 60,000 times. That's close to 60,000 people seeing and sharing this information so others knew who to keep an eye out for! Following any tragedy, I try to share any and all information I come across: whether it be links to fundraisers, phone numbers for victims and families to call, pictures of those missing, individual stories of victims, or anything else that helps get important information out there. One extra click could make a huge difference. To get you started, I've listed some links below to various fundraisers, organizations, and donation sites for many of the areas that have recently witnessed tragedy. Obviously, there are more out there, so if you know of any others let me know in the comments or send me a tweet!

AARP Foundation (Texas)

American Kidney Fund (Texas)

Boys and Girls Clubs of Puerto Rico (Puerto Rico)

California Victim Compensation Board (Vegas)

Carter Blood Care (Texas)

Center for Volunteer and Non Profit Leadership (California)

Coalition for the Homeless of Houston and Harris County (Texas)

Community Foundation of Mendocino County (California)

Corpus Christi Food Bank (Texas)

Councilman Greenfield's Amazon Wishlist (Puerto Rico)

Direct Relief (Mexico, Puerto Rico, Texas, and Florida)

Facebook Crisis Response Page for Northern California (California)

Feeding Texas (Texas)

Florida Health (Florida)

Food Bank of the Golden Crescent (Texas)

Foundation for Puerto Rico (Puerto Rico)

Friends of the Columbia Gorge (Oregon)

Galveston Food Bank (Texas)

Global Giving: Florida (Florida)

Global Giving: Hurricane Harvey (Texas)

Global Giving: Puerto Rico (Puerto Rico)

Hood River County Sheriff and Search and Rescue (Oregon)

Houston Food Bank (Texas)

Las Vegas Victim's Fund (Vegas)

Napa Valley Community Foundation (California)

OXFAM Mexico (Mexico)

Project Paz (Mexico)

Reinas Unidas Fundraiser (Puerto Rico)

Rocket Dog Rescue (California)

Samaritan's Purse (Texas)

Save the Children (Florida)

Save the Children (Mexico)

Save the Children (Puerto Rico)

Save the Children (Texas)

Sonoma County Resilence Fund (California)

Southern Baptist Disaster Relief (Texas)

South Texas Blood and Tissue Center (Texas)

Texas Diaper Bank (Texas)

The Center for Disaster Philanthropy (Texas)

The Greater Houston Community Foundation (Texas)

Topos Mexico (Mexico)

UNICEF Mexico (Mexico)

UNICEF Puerto Rico (Puerto Rico)

Unidos Hispanic Federation (Puerto Rico)

United for Puerto Rico (Puerto Rico)

United Way (Mexico)

United Way of Greater Houston (Texas)

Volunteer Florida (Florida)

Volunteers in Medicine of Southern Nevada (Vegas)

Wildland Firefighter Foundation (Oregon)

World Central Kitchen (Puerto Rico)

World Vision (Puerto Rico)










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I'm A Woman And You Can't Convince Me Breastfeeding In Public Is OK In 2019

Sorry, not sorry.

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Lately, I have seen so many people going off on social media about how people shouldn't be upset with mothers breastfeeding in public. You know what? I disagree.

There's a huge difference between being modest while breastfeeding and just being straight up careless, trashy and disrespectful to those around you. Why don't you try popping out a boob without a baby attached to it and see how long it takes for you to get arrested for public indecency? Strange how that works, right?

So many people talking about it bring up the point of how we shouldn't "sexualize" breastfeeding and seeing a woman's breasts while doing so. Actually, all of these people are missing the point. It's not sexual, it's just purely immodest and disrespectful.

If you see a girl in a shirt cut too low, you call her a slut. If you see a celebrity post a nude photo, you call them immodest and a terrible role model. What makes you think that pulling out a breast in the middle of public is different, regardless of what you're doing with it?

If I'm eating in a restaurant, I would be disgusted if the person at the table next to me had their bare feet out while they were eating. It's just not appropriate. Neither is pulling out your breast for the entire general public to see.

Nobody asked you to put a blanket over your kid's head to feed them. Nobody asked you to go feed them in a dirty bathroom. But you don't need to basically be topless to feed your kid. Growing up, I watched my mom feed my younger siblings in public. She never shied away from it, but the way she did it was always tasteful and never drew attention. She would cover herself up while doing it. She would make sure that nothing inappropriate could be seen. She was lowkey about it.

Mindblowing, right? Wait, you can actually breastfeed in public and not have to show everyone what you're doing? What a revolutionary idea!

There is nothing wrong with feeding your baby. It's something you need to do, it's a part of life. But there is definitely something wrong with thinking it's fine to expose yourself to the entire world while doing it. Nobody wants to see it. Nobody cares if you're feeding your kid. Nobody cares if you're trying to make some sort of weird "feminist" statement by showing them your boobs.

Cover up. Be modest. Be mindful. Be respectful. Don't want to see my boobs? Good, I don't want to see yours either. Hard to believe, I know.

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Please Know That Being Diagnosed With PCOS Is Not The Same As Living With It

I was diagnosed with PCOS in 2018, but it wasn't until months later that I realized what it’s actually like living with it everyday.

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In October 2017, tired of counting calories and never seeing the scale move, I decided to try the latest fad diet: Keto.

It worked.

I lost almost 40 pounds in half the time it had taken to lose 20. I had lost nearly 10 inches from waist and hips. I went from a size 18 to a size 12.

Getting into ketosis was hard, but once I was there, I felt incredible: better mental clarity and focus, astronomical amounts of energy, regular body functions. Don't get me wrong, this diet is hard. No carbs, no colorful vegetables, no pasta. The struggle was real. But what it was doing for my body was worth it.

Except for one little thing: my periods had lost their minds. I'm talking bleeding for three weeks straight, no break. Coming and going in particular pattern, sometimes twice a month. Side note: this is not normal. In the world of Keto, it's supposed to help exponentially with fertility and hormone balances; people use this diet as a way to reverse hormone imbalances, PCOS, and infertility. This was virtually unheard of in all of my support groups.

Months and months go by with no relief. My doctor can't figure out why everything is so wonky. She takes me off the pill and things get better - slightly. Any improvement at this point was a victory.

She finally gets my ultrasounds back and she says "Well that's a surprise!" Cue my questioning look of confusion. "Umm care to share?" "Your ovaries have the characteristic look of PCOS. But you don't have any of the usual symptoms. I'm guessing the Keto diet was helping in it's own way. I recommend staying on the diet, let nature re-regulate your natural hormones, and we will re-evaluate in a few months."

I was frustrated, but this was totally do-able. I had been living this lifestyle for months, so I didn't foresee it as an issue. But then my kidneys starting reacting to the diet, and that doctor recommended I come off it. Obviously I wasn't going to jeopardize my health, so I started a low carb version of the Mediterranean diet.

I went in fully expecting to gain some weight back, because I was reintroducing carbs when I had gone largely without them for over a year. I knew that this would happen, and I didn't let myself get discouraged when the scale started going forward.

What I did not expect was to have my PCOS start running lose with my entire life and sanity.

Don't get me wrong — my periods were normal again, but everything else went AWOL. My hormones were going up and down of their own volition, we are talking sobbing hysterically over a butterfly commercial one minute and then fuming with anger over a car ad the next.

I started experiencing pelvic pain that feels like cramps only not all the time and without rhyme or reason.

My hair became uncontrollably oily to the point where I had to wash it everyday like clockwork; it started to thin and fall out.

I also started getting darker hair everywhere. I'm naturally an incredibly fair-skinned person so having black hair anywhere stands out like a sore thumb.

I felt like I wasn't in control of anything going on with my body. I felt like a hairy, unattractive monster. Everything that made me feel attractive and desirable was slowly being taken away from me piece by piece.

I had been living with PCOS for nearly six months, but I hadn't realized what it was like to actually live with it. I thought it was just irregular periods, but it is so much more than just a weird period.

I went back to the doctor, and she explained to me again how PCOS works, and how she didn't think traditional treatment options were the best thing for me. "Go back on the Keto diet. You were having incredible success with managing your symptoms. Go back to that."

Going back has not been easy. When I first started Keto, it wasn't easy, but I got into it quickly. I've been trying since January 12th to get back into it, and it hasn't worked.

I'm now in a place where I need to do it — for my health, for my sanity, for my self-esteem — and I physically can't. I do exactly everything the same as before, and it's not working. I'm trying to move away from the mentality of doing it for weight loss, and move toward positive thinking about how it's what's best for my body and my health.

My PCOS has forced me to have militant control over everything I eat. I can't simply enjoy food anymore. Everything that I chose to eat directly relates back to my PCOS and what that particular food can do for me. I think about everything that I put into my body, and the potential it has for either healing my body or harming it.

I see a piece of cake and I smell it, and picture in my mind what it tastes like. But I know that if I eat that piece of cake, I will bloat, get a stomach ache, and have to start back from square one the next day.

I cut out the carbs. I say no to cake. No potatoes. No pasta. I eat only green vegetables. I drink coffee that has nothing but heavy cream. I try to do intermittent fasting for 15 hours a day.

And I hope that it works. I hope that today will be the day I can get my life back on track. That today will be the day Keto works its magic.

I hope.

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