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Tornado-relief donators advised to research before donating

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Wednesday, May 22, 2013 - 10:59am

After any disaster, people all across the country try to do everything they can to help those impacted.

The victims of the tornado that destroyed Moore, OK need everything from a hot meal to materials to rebuild their homes from the ground up.

However, it is important to find a way to help in a way that would do the most good.

When disasters like this happen, some people start their own drives. Others just make the call to start driving to some of hardest hit spots. While most people have the best of intentions, it's a lot easier and more effective to stay home and do your part here.

Obviously, donating money and clothes is at the top of the list. However, people are urged not to start up a drive without making sure you've thought the whole thing through, including where all the donations are going.

“The first instinct people have is that they want to have a collection drive, to collect used clothing, or food and things like that”, stated Carol Spruell, head of the Catholic Charities at the Diocese of Baton Rouge. “That's really not a good idea unless you have a specific request from an agency in that area. You’ve got to think about things like shipping costs and what those are going to be, how you are going to get those things up there and how an agency will be able to distribute those items; really, cash money is the best thing to donate at this time.”

Also, you want to make sure you're donating to reputable organizations, such as the Red Cross and the Salvation Army - organizations that have been around for a long period of time that have a track record of helping people in tragedies like this.

As with any tragedy, many people say they're helping the victims, but they're pocketing any money themselves.

Jim Stalls with the Better Business Bureau said that's why it's critical to always make sure the money you're sending is going where you want it to go.

"Use your head, not your heart when considering donating to these types of relief funds,” stated Stalls. “After any natural disaster, there are always scumbags that come out of the woodwork to prey on the on the generous public of the United States."

The Better Business Bureau has some approved places to donate, you cant find all that information here.

Another thing for donators to consider is the time it will take the area to recover; clearly, it will take months, if not years, for some people in the hardest-hit areas to get back on their feet. Even though donating right now is important, it's okay to wait, too. Cash donations will be just as needed down the road as they are right now.

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