With the passing of each day I’m hearing countless stories of people all around the world donating money to the relief efforts here in Japan. I’ve heard of individual people donating via text message, online, at their churches, etc. I’m hearing of celebritities and major corporations donating massive sums of money. Canada’s own Justin Bieber donated a million dollars to Japan and Starbucks Japan donated 1.2 million.
I am of course more than pleased that so many are giving so much. Japan will need countless billions of dollars to rebuild after last Friday’s earthquake, tsunami and now nuclear disaster. Millions of people have lost everything, been displaced and infrastructure around most of northern Japan has been damaged.
Of course, donating money is a great thing, but not everyone out there has money to give. There are many people out there with warm hearts, but simply don’t have the extra cash to give away.
There are many ways that out can help the people of Japan without donating money. Here are some ideas I had:
1. Donate your time (volunteer): Even if you don’t have money, you can find the time to help. You can volunteer at an organization that is collecting clothes for the people in Japan. You can contact your local Red Cross and ask them how you can help. Maybe there is something you can do at your local Salvation Army to lend a hand. Don’t underestimate how important just a few hours of your time can be for those in need!
2. Create your own fundraiser: Start your own fundraiser. Start one with your classmates, coworkers or friends. It doesn’t have to be something grand. It could be something as simple as a bake sale. Why not organize a walk-a-thon at your local school track? Hold a yard sale and donate the proceeds to a reputable NGO helping Japan. Set up a table at a fleamarket. Run a race (marathon/half/10k/5k) and ask for donations. Have a carwash. I can even remember doing a 24-hour rock-a-thon (in rocking chairs) as a teenager. There are many great ways to raise money wherever you are!
3. Donate old clothes: The people in northern Japan have lost everything. Most escaped with only the clothes on their backs. They need clothes (adults and children), blankets and shoes.
4. Say a prayer: If you are a person of faith, any faith, this is always a great option!
5. Educate yourself and others about the situation: There is a lot of sensational and bad press coverage coming out of this disaster. I’ve seen some pretty bad stuff on major American networks like ABC News. Do your research. Learn about the situation from multiple news sources. Shop around so to speak. Once you have a decent grasp on what is happening over here in Japan, spread the word!
6. Donate Blood: If you live in Japan this is a great option!
Now, just a word of warning, there are many great organizations out there helping like Save the Children, Red Cross, the Salvation Army, etc. Mind you, there are also scammers out there. It is a sad, but true reality that some people out there will take advantage of an awful situation like this for their own benefit. Make sure you donate to a credible and well-known charity.