The hurricane disaster in Texas may displace people from more than 100,000 homes for at least several weeks. They need housing, food, water, and some way to replace all the goods lost to water damage, or simply washed or blown away. Should you send replacement items? Should you send quilts?
It’s tempting, isn’t it? A quilt is a tangible item to show your concern, to offer both comfort and warmth. I’ve already seen a number of requests for quilts for Texans. I’ve also seen one of those requests in a Facebook group called a fraud, and deleted after the group moderator couldn’t affirm its legitimacy.
In the past I’ve made quilts to give post-disaster. But unless a disaster is local, I won’t do it again. Why not? Very simply, if a community is facing the scale of tragedy that Houston and other Texas cities are facing, figuring out how to deal with unsolicited stuff creates more trouble than the stuff is worth. As Abby Glassenberg says in her post from 2013,
The truth is, though, that direct donations of goods, especially in the wake of a disaster, can truly cause more harm than good. Boxes and bags of blankets and clothes and stuffed animals pile up on the floors of warehouses, waiting to be inspected, sorted and distributed. The flood of donations commonly creates a second crisis of sorts.
Read Abby’s whole post for more information and some good advice.
NPR.org also covered this topic in 2013. Did you ever see photos of all the donations of teddy bears and other comfort gifts after the Sandy Hook killings? Did you know that many donations sent to Haiti ended up in waste piles on the beach, some of which are still there?
The urge to give is strong. In Texas, however, they may need things like toiletries, school supplies, and clean water more than quilts. Whatever they need, it’s probably better to donate cash, unless you live in Texas or nearby and have connections that will directly serve those affected.
If you still want to give things, consider making those donations to organizations in your own locale. My quilt guild gives between 100 and 200 quilts a year, as well as other items like bibs, burp cloths, pillow cases, and placemats. Almost all those donations are distributed within our county. We know what organizations need, because we work with them on a continuing basis. When their needs change, they tell us.
And there are a number of national (and international) organizations that distribute quilts, as well. Two of them are Project Linus and Quilts of Valor, but there are many others. (I am not endorsing either of these, or any others, as I don’t know enough about them to do so. Please do your own research to decide where you’d like to contribute your time, money, and efforts.)
Quilters are very generous. Our impulse is to give, and to give something with love and concern stitched in. Please do. But give quilts locally and to well-respected, continuing organizations that are structured to distribute quilts. Otherwise, financial contributions are generally more helpful.