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5 Ways to Give and Help a Flooded Neighbor

Farmers help farmers. That’s just a fact. The desire to help our fellow food producers, and others in need, is as inbred as caring for the land and livestock.

But where is help most needed after the Midwest floods? And how can generous folks get it there?

Here are 5 ways you can do your part to help farmers and other flood victims.

1. Established Charities

The American Red Cross and United Way of the Midlands are actively engaged in providing services on the front lines of the floods. Donations to the Red Cross can be made online or by calling 800/RED-CROSS. Donations to United Way can also be made online. To make a $10 donation that will appear on your next cell phone bill, text the word REDCROSS to 90999 or FLOODRELIEF to 41444.

Both the American Red Cross and United Way of the Midlands are also accepting volunteers, as is the Salvation Army.

2. Community Foundations

Rebuild the Heartland Community Fund is a joint creation of the Nebraska Community Foundation and First National Bank of Omaha. First National Bank kicked in $100,000 to start the fund and has pledged an additional $150,000 to match contributions. All contributions will be used to support recovery efforts in flooding-impacted communities in Nebraska, western Iowa, and southeastern South Dakota.

You can help specific communities through local funds and foundations. Mills County Flood Fund, Freemont County Flood Fund, Grand Island Community Foundation - Central Nebraska Disaster Relief Fund, Kearney Area Community Disaster Relief Fund, Custer Community Foundation Disaster Relief Fund, Merrick County Disaster Relief Fund, Siouxland Recovery Fund, and Bellevue Community Foundation Disaster Relief Fund are all set up to provide local assistance. Check your local community information for more details.

Some of the community funds are affiliated with the Omaha Community Foundation, which provides easy links to several donation opportunities on its flood assistance page.

3. Foodbanks

Foodbank of the Heartland and Foodbank of Siouxland are working overtime to provide emergency as well as ongoing support. They can always use your help.

4. Farm organizations

The Nebraska Cattlemen Disaster Relief Fund has been created to help cattlemen in need. Donations can be made via the website, or mail a check to Nebraska Cattlemen Disaster Relief Fund, 4611 Cattle Drive, Lincoln, NE 68521.

To donate hay, feed stuffs, fencing materials, volunteer help, or equipment, call the Nebraska Department of Agriculture at 800/831-0550. Be prepared to share your name, contact information, and what you have that you are willing to donate and the amount, along with your location. NDA also offers a hay and forage hotline for hay donations and sales.

Donations to the cause can also be made through the state’s #NebraskaStrong website.

Farm Bureau has stepped up to the plate with programs for Iowa and Nebraska.

The Iowa Farm Bureau has created the Farming Community Disaster Exchange, an online message board where people can offer help or goods to other farmers. The farm organization donated $20,000 to the Red Cross and $15,000 to the Nebraska Farm Bureau Disaster Relief Fund.

The Nebraska Farm Bureau Disaster Relief Fund is accepting donations online or by sending a check to Nebraska Farm Bureau Foundation, Attn: Disaster Relief Fund, P.O. Box 80299, Lincoln, NE 68501-0299. In addition to the disaster fund, Nebraska Farm Bureau has created the Agriculture Disaster Exchange to connect farmers, ranchers, and agricultural communities with help.

5. GoFundMe campaigns

The crowdfunding site has complied a central webpage linking verified fund-raisers related to Midwest flooding. Most are for specific families and causes and all come with the GoFundMe guarantee that the funds will go where they say they will.

Assuring the authenticity of the recipient is always a priority in charitable giving. Iowa Attorney General Tom Miller’s Office offers these fund donation tips:

  • Don’ fall for sympathetic or similar sounding names. If you worry the money won’t be used locally, contact local officials to confirm the fundraiser. 
  • Research unfamiliar organizations at the national Better Business Bureau website or Charity Navigator.
  • Say “no” to high-pressure solicitors and unknown phone solicitors who ask for bank information.
  • Giving directly to a well-known charity is often the best option.

Other opportunities to help:

There are businesses, like Hy-Vee, with a pledge to match $50,000 in customer donations, that make donating while you shop simple and convenient. And Thrivent, a not-for-profit membership organization, will match $1 for every $2, up to $250,000, in personal donations to its affiliated groups made on Thrivent.com.

Facebook has created a crisis response page – Flooding Across Nebraska and Iowa, USA. Along with finding donation options, you can post what you have to offer, or respond to someone’s request for help. Many areas also have local Facebook Swap sites that provide similar connections for a limited geographical area.

Flood distribution centers throughout the area collect household, personal, and nonperishable items for distribution to flood victims. But be sure to check in first. At this point in the recovery process, their needs may be specific. They also likely accept cash donations.

Volunteered time, talents, and sheer manpower are as valuable as dollars to many local efforts. The need will be ongoing, and needs will change over time.

A word of caution from Iowa Disaster Human Resource Council: Do not self-deploy. Affiliate yourself with existing organizations and wait until a need has been identified and support coordinated. That way your help will the most effective. IDHRC lists volunteer opportunities by community.

Can’t take time off work to help? Maybe you don’t have to. Some companies allow employees to donate unused sick or vacation leave to others in need. Contact your human resources department to see if this option is available to help fellow employees who can’t work because of the flood.

They always need blood. The American Red Cross is encouraging those able to donate blood to find a blood drive near you and roll up your sleeve to help. The local and national need is ongoing.

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