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Editor's Corner: Some thoughts about donating to help disaster victims

Word from The Associated Press is that President Trump has pledged to give $1 million of his own money to Hurricane Harvey storm relief efforts. White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders told a press briefing Thursday that the president likely would consult members of the press on where the money should go.

The president hasn’t consulted me, but should he do so, this is what I would tell him about where he could send his checks:

  • The United Methodist Committee on Relief — UMCOR, as it is called throughout the denomination, spends virtually all of the money donated to it directly on helping those who need help. Administration usually is handled by local conferences and districts already in place. They are among the highest rated.

  • Catholic Charities USA — Like the Methodists, the Catholics spend virtually all of the money donated to them on helping those who need help. They are at work in Houston right now, and like UMCOR are among the highest rated.

  • The American Red Cross — Well known for its many services, The Red Cross provides help in almost any disaster situation, and is at work in Houston right now. Its rating is slightly lower than UMCOR or Catholic Charities because of the amount it spends on fund-raising and central administration.

  • The Salvation Army — (Conflict of interest alert: I was once on a Salvation Army Advisory Board). The Salvation Army is not unlike the Red Cross in scope, but like the Red Cross does spend more money on administration and fund-raising than either Catholic Charities or UMCOR. The Salvation Army’s biggest asset is that it knows how to feed and shelter a lot of people in a hurry.

While there are a lot of other fine charities, these four, in the case of this monumental disaster, would deliver the absolute most bang for the president’s bucks, and for yours, too.

If you get called on the phone or contacted by email or regular mail to ask you for a donation for Hurricane Harvey relief, tell the caller or writer no.

If you want to give anything to hurricane relief, save yourself some heartache. Go online to one of the four charities above and donate directly, using a credit card, or a PayPal account, or write a check and send it to the address indicated on the web site.

You will be able to deduct any such donations from your taxable income, and you will be satisfied that you have done the most you possibly can with the money you can afford to donate. Just like President Trump, only a little less, if you are like me.


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