As Volunteers, we recognize the call to serve those recently impacted by Hurricane Ian. Communities are dealing with the loss of loved ones, displacement from their homes, damaged businesses and infrastructure, transportation hardships, and a lack of basic necessities. As Volunteers, we are known for lending a helping hand or offering assistance to those in need, and our friends in Florida could use your support.
At this time, the university is not collecting material donations, which often do not address current needs and cost significantly more in logistical expenses. Financial donations can be used immediately in response to a crisis and allow disaster relief organizations to purchase exactly what is needed when it’s needed. If specific needs are identified, we will update our Volunteer community about those opportunities.
To make the most of your contributions, it’s important to follow guidelines for donating and volunteering responsibly. The tried and true best practices identified by FEMA will give you a starting point.
Donate Cash: Financial contributions to recognized disaster relief organizations are the fastest, most flexible and most effective method of donating. Organizations on the ground know what items and quantities are needed, often buy in bulk with discounts and, if possible, purchase through businesses local to the disaster, which supports economic recovery.
To find a list of trusted organizations that can put your generous contributions to the best possible use, visit National Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster and/or the disaster relief fund organized by Volunteer Florida.
Connect to Volunteer: Trusted organizations operating in the affected area know where volunteers are needed. Depending on the disaster and the current phase it is in, volunteers can be extremely helpful to ensure survivors can return to their new normal. By working with an established non-profit organization, the appropriate safety, training and skills can be considered. Recovery lasts a lot longer than media attention. There will be volunteer needs for many months, often many years, after the disaster. Your help often is needed long after a disaster.
Our colleagues at Florida Gulf Coast University have identified 5 reputable agencies to connect and serve through:
- Community Cooperative (3429 Dr. Martin Luther King Jr Blvd., Fort Myers, FL 33916) – The agency needs volunteers to coordinate the management and distribution of supplies. They will need individuals daily for the foreseeable future. If you are interested in volunteering there, please visit https://communitycooperative.com/ or call 239-332-0441.
- Eva’s Closet (16331 Old US 41 #101, Fort Myers, FL 33912) – The agency needs volunteers to coordinate the management and distribution of supplies. If you are interested in volunteering there, please text 239-339-3216 or email email@example.com to arrange a schedule.
- Salvation Army (26820 Old, US-41, Bonita Springs, FL 34135) – The agency needs volunteers to coordinate the management and distribution of supplies. If you are interested in volunteering there, please visit https://salvationarmyflorida.org/fortmyers/#volunteer and follow the appropriate volunteer section.
- United Way of Lee, Glades, & Hendry – Several volunteer opportunities with local organizations are listed at https://volunteer.unitedwaylee.org/need/
- Volunteer Florida – If you would like to volunteer your time elsewhere, including virtually if possible, please visit www.volunteerflorida.org. This website provides a list of open volunteer opportunities across the state, and provides you with the information you need to begin volunteering.
For more information about the ongoing hurricane recovery efforts in Florida, visit the Florida Division of Emergency Management website.