How Your PTA Can Help with Natural Disaster Relief
With the rise of natural disasters from Hurricane Harvey, Irma and Maria, relief is still in dire need for many victims.Natural disasters affect victims in many ways, such as needing to rebuild their homes from scratch, being displaced from their community or lacking access to basic needs. While your PTA or PTO typically comes together to focus on strengthening the resources and funds for an enriching and successful school, this is a great opportunity to exemplify unity and support. Now is an opportunity to portray that community isn’t limited to just your neighborhood. Here are great ideas for PTOs and PTAs to help those in need.
Local Non-Profit Organization Collaborations
One of the things effected after homes of hurricane victims have been damaged or destroyed is access to food and clothing. If you are close to the surrounding regions, such as Houston, Texas, Florida Keys region of Florida or Puerto Rico, you can work with your PTA to reach out to a non-profit organization close-by to see what locals need. While it may come naturally to want to host a food drive or clothing drive, if your community is not close, the cost and process of transporting the goods may become more burdensome than helpful. If this is the case, consider fundraising instead. If a food drive is needed, here are some recommendations for donated items:
- Canned food items that do not require refrigeration or much preparation and when possible, have a pull-top for easy opening
- Snack items, such as granola bars, dried fruits, nuts and other snacks that do not quickly perish
- Pouches of various proteins, such as tuna, chicken, beans or salmon
- Baby foods which are readily available in pouches
For clothing, reach out to local organizations in the affected areas to find out what type of clothing is needed and focus your drive on requesting these types of clothing.
In the case you are not close to the surrounding affected areas, it may be best for the PTA to focus on raising funds so that the necessary supplies can be purchased closer to the location or used as best fit for the victims.
Fundraising for Disaster Relief
Money is one of the easiest resources to raise and probably the most useful resource for nonprofit organizations to assist disaster victims. Consider the types of fundraising events that do not require a lot of planning from the PTA. Select one that can be put into action fairly quickly since disaster relief efforts typically have a smaller window of time to receive donations. Here are some quick ideas to raise funds:
- Bake Sales at school and athletic events
- School Spirit Paraphernalia/T-Shirt Sales
- Crowdfunding Campaigns
- School or Community Yard Sales
- Dress Down Days – teachers pay $1-3 to wear jeans, students pay for the privilege of not wearing a school uniform
- Local Restaurant Events – find a business to donate a percentage of their proceeds from a certain night of business, like Wednesday night at your local pizza parlor
- Host a charity gala with a silent auction
Here are more fundraising tips and resources to effectively plan your event or see this article that lists great ideas for PTA events. Also, don’t forget to utilize professional and cost-effective fundraising software to collect your funds so that you maximize your fundraising efforts.
Pet Shelter Collaborations
With the displacement of families, the other effected victims that are often overlooked are our furry friends: dogs and cats. Many dogs and cats from the disaster regions have been sent around the country in hopes of finding a new family. Contact local pet shelters in the affected regions and see if there are nearby shelters where displaced pets have been sent for adoption. If you are near one, you can run an adoption event to help find the pets a new home. If you are not close to one, run an online fundraising effort to help support the rescues.
While blood is always in need, natural disasters usually call for more demand as these often result in numerous injured victims. Find a nationwide donation blood center to set-up a blood drive at your school for the natural disaster, or to set-up a dedicated day for parents, administrators and students to donate at the blood donation center.
As the PTA is working to plan a disaster relief effort, here’s a great article to better understand how to motivate PTO members to achieve your goals successfully.