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Donate Money, Not Stuff, to Disaster Victims in Kentucky

Up to 60 percent of goods donated during times of disaster go to waste.

For some reason it sticks in my mind about how in the aftermath of the October 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake, all manner of donated goods were sent to San Francisco, including winter coats and a wedding dress. I also remember the good people of eastern Washington sending a semitruck full of potatoes off to another disaster in the United States. My best guess on that shipment is that they might have made it to a food bank, or they could have ended up in a landfill.


Here is something I got in the email today and it is good advice:

“As the country learns about the floods in Eastern Kentucky, we open our hearts and want to help. Sometimes, however, that help is misguided, and people and organizations send goods that are not needed, diverting resources and focus away from lifesaving and life-preserving activities, and clogging up supply routes and warehouses with items that are not needed. Most unsolicited goods go to waste because they are not the right goods at the right time.

“Please help Good360 and other disaster recovery organizations spread the word to NOT SEND donated items unless they have been requested by a specific and vetted organization that is working in coordination with local governmental and nonprofit partners and have been confirmed as unduplicated. You can find current unmet product needs on the Good360 website and other reliable sources, including the Kentucky Office of Emergency Management. Examples of potentially problematic donations often include unsolicited and unsorted clothing as well as expiring foods.”
Eric Holdeman is a contributing writer for Emergency Management magazine and is the former director of the King County, Wash., Office of Emergency Management.