houston gulf coast hurricane Harvey relief volunteer donations how to help

As I sit in my apartment this morning, my heart aches for my hometown.  As many of you know, Houston has been hit with a torrential downpour for the past four days as a result of Hurricane Harvey.  Our family has been extremely fortunate in that no one has experienced water damage, but that's not the case for so many of my friends and fellow Houstonians.  Some have lost everything and while earthly possessions are just that, I cannot imagine what it is like to not have a home to go back to or know the next steps to take.

I have been asked by a lot of my friends that are not in the Houston area how they can help, so I thought I would compile a list of reliable sources in one place.  Facebook and other social media tools have been a wonderful way for people to share information in this time of need, so as I find needs from people on there, I will try and update here.  Please keep in mind that monetary donations are always appreciated by organizations as needs change quickly and right now there is limited space to store donated goods.

  • If you pray, pray.  Once the rain stops, it will take time for water to recede and the rebuilding to begin, so please keep Houston in your thoughts and prayers long term.
  • The church I grew up in has been helping the community through rescues, their food bank and other various needs of their community and they are in need of donations.  I know some are wary of donating to just any cause, but I can assure you these funds will go directly to help those in need.  You can use this link to make monetary donations - you can choose "quick give" and designate the funds to "Hurricane Harvey Donations". If you are local and can safely travel, their biggest need right now is cleaning supplies (trash bags, Clorox wipes, etc).  
  • I could not make this post and leave out our furry friends.  Harvey has displaced pets, flooded out animal shelters and caused those with larger animals to seek out higher ground.  Austin Pets Alive has already transported hundreds animals out of Houston and they are in dire need of supplies and donations.  If you can make a financial donation, here is the link for that.  If you are in the Austin area, please consider donating pet supplies like cat littler, collars and tarps (their current top needs).  If you can foster, please consider opening your home. 
  • Something Kyle and I will personally be doing long after the storms end is supporting businesses that have supported the people of Houston in their time of need and I ask you to consider doing the same.  Restaurants have donated food to first responders, businesses have donated clothing, goods and other items to those in need and a well known furniture store opened both locations to give people a safe place to sleep.  While these businesses are happy to help in this time of need, they need continued support in order to do so. 
  • If you have extra items like toys, clothes, household goods laying around, set them aside and consider donating them at a later time.  Those items will be needed as people rebuild and often take a back seat to the immediate needs due to lack of space to store them.  Non-perishable food and water along with things like blankets and towels have been a top need for many shelters. Now that the water has receded, cleaning supplies are also a huge need right now. 
  •  OTHER RESOURCES: Space City Weather is a great resource for non-hyped weather updates and is accurate.  If you are currently trying to get back into Houston, please check DriveTexas before getting on the road.  Comcast has opened wifi hotspots to anyone and everyone.  The network is xfinitywifi and should pop up if a hotspot is near you.  There are customer and non-customer options available.   

    I will never cease to be amazed by the spirit of Texas and the willingness to help others.  Thank you for taking the time to read this post and if you are able to help, thank you for that as well.  If you have any other reputable organizations that are in need of donations, please feel free to leave them in the comments!