THE BLOG

Contributing to Chile -- What You Can Do Now

04/30/2010 05:12 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

The horrific earthquake in Chile that follows the recent destruction and devastation of Haiti can be overwhelming. Seeing the endless streams of families without houses or any of their personal belongings is difficult to watch. Personally, I prefer not to be bombarded with all of the bad news. It's not that I don't want to be well-informed about the problems or that I don't care. It's because I would rather be doing something that would contribute to a solution as opposed to spending my time absorbing all of the devastation.

I've talked to a lot of people who feel the same way. Many of us would rather get involved instead of get depressed. Although taking a flight to Chile to help out is not a feasible possibility for many of us, there are other ways to get involved. One of the biggest needs right now is funding to assist with rescue and rehabilitation efforts. This is where you can help. Instead of buying a plane ticket to Chile, send the same amount of money to one of these organizations instead. Your donations are never needed more than they are now.

Here are some of the most established organizations that are actively deploying aid in Chile to help jump start the relief efforts:

1. American Red Cross: The American Red Cross has already pledged funds to help Chile recover. Since its founding in 1881, the American Red Cross has been one of the most trusted emergency response organization.

2. Direct Relief International: Direct Relief is already on the ground providing medical assistance.

3. Habitat for Humanity: Habitat for Humanity Chile is developing shelter solutions for low-income families affected by the earthquake.

If you don't have money to donate, there are other ways you can help:

-Firefighters and people with emergency medical training will be going to Chile to offer their services. If you know a firefighter or someone who plans to help, offer to take care of their children, watch over their house, or check the mail while they're away.

-You can also volunteer at your local Salvation Army. This trusted organization is currently in Chile providing assistance. By donating your time to their volunteer programs, you will enable them to send as much aid to Chile as possible.

-If you have any home improvement goods such as furniture, home accessories, building materials, or appliances that you are not currently using, you can donate those items to Habitat ReStores, which are run by Habitat for Humanity. They have locations all across the US.

-Donate any clothing or shoes that you can no longer wear to a Salvation Army thrift store. You can also purchase items from these stores. Proceeds from sales are directed to Salvation Army programs, and will enable the organization to direct as many funds as possible to relief efforts in Chile.

-If you know of anyone with relatives in Chile, offer to bring them dinner or do anything else you can to provide some comfort and show that you care. This will help put their minds at ease despite the fears of friends and family members that might be missing.

In difficult times following natural disasters, such as the current situations in Chile and Haiti, we have the ability to show our compassion and give to those who have the most immediate needs. We are not powerless. Even though we may be separated by thousands of miles, cultural differences, and political ideals, we can help our global neighbors in these times of crisis.