With news reports showing the devastation in Texas from Hurricane Harvey, Attorney General Peter F. Kilmartin is reminding Rhode Islanders to use caution when donating to hurricane relief efforts.
"The effects of Hurricane Harvey are likely to continue for the next several weeks, and the need for relief efforts to help Texans are sure to increase as we become fully aware of the devastation the storm leaves in its path. In times of natural disasters, it's only natural to want to help those effected, but it's important to remember to only donate to established charities that are mobilized and best able to help those in need," said Attorney General Kilmartin.
A number of national organizations have already established relief efforts, including the American Red Cross, the Salvation Army, and Catholic Charities. Those charities have established ways to donate to the efforts:
American Red Cross To donate, visit www.redcross.org, call 1-80-RED CROSS, or text the word HARVEY to 90999 to make a $10 donation.
The Salvation Army To donate, visit www.givesalvationarmy.org or call 1-800-725-2769.
Catholic Charities USA To donate, visit www.catholiccharitiesusa.org.
At this early stage of relief efforts, charitable organizations state that monetary donations are the best way to help those in need. As the relief efforts continue into the coming days, weeks, and possibly months, there may be additional relief efforts to donate other items, including water, clothing, and household items.
Attorney General Kilmartin also warns residents to be wary of online or unsolicited requests for money to help relief efforts.
"Reputable charitable organizations will not make unsolicited calls or send unsolicited texts or emails asking for money. The best way to give is to visit the charitable organization's website directly. Don't click on links in texts or emails as they may direct you to a fraudulent site set up with the intent of taking your money and not helping those in need," he said.
Attorney General Kilmartin also urges those who want to donate to relief efforts to avoid donating through crowdfunding websites unless they are supported through a legitimate charity.
"While crowdfunding is very popular and easy to raise money for good causes, it is very difficult to know if the charity is legitimate or if the money will be used as advertised," cautioned Kilmartin.
"The images coming out of Texas are heartbreaking, and the storm is expected to pound the area for several days. Texans are known for their resolve, and they will need every ounce of that resolve to get through the storm. Please continue to keep all those in Harvey's path in your thoughts and prayers as they start to assess the damage and rebuild," added Kilmartin.