Bahamas Relief: Here’s how to have the biggest impact by donating what’s needed

Donations may be pouring in, but are they really what the people in the Bahamas need right now?

Water, food, clothing, cleaning supplies — all of it supposed to go to those in need.
But while your donation is always appreciated, relief organizations say cash is king and those supplies might not be the most efficient way to help.

In the face of a disaster, people are eager to help.

“You can’t help but want to do what you can with what you have,” said Tiffany Pereira who donated supplies.

Mountains of donations — flying and sailing out of Florida this week, headed to the Bahamas.

“There’s a sense that we can all do something,” said Charley Valera.

Captain Ben Bridges from The Salvation Army of Naples says the community support has been tremendous.

“They’ve acquired boats and they’ve got the means and the manpower to distribute those goods to those affected areas and that’s wonderful,” he said.

But there’s an even better way to help: cash.

“If I receive a financial donation instead of that case of water, I might be able to buy three or four more cases of water for the same amount of money that it cost a donor to buy that one case of water,” said Bridges.

Transporting supplies also racks up extra costs when those dollars could go toward what survivors need, when they need it.

Otherwise, Bridges says, “We’ll have warehouses full of goods that either we have just not been able to get out to the public, or a nonprofit has received but really just didn’t find the need for that particular item.”

He says used toiletries, old clothes and stuffed animals are the least helpful. But money goes a long way.

“Often times, not only can we meet the needs of the people there, but we can help the local economy because we can buy things locally and help people get back on their feet,” said Bridges.

If you still want to donate goods, he says necessary things that are new and unused — hygiene kits, cleaning supplies, generators — those really help.

The Bahamas says cash donations are needed the most and are the best way to make a difference.

If you make cash donations to organizations like the Salvation Army or the Red Cross, be sure to specify you’re donating to Bahamas relief.
Salvation Army:
1-800-SAL-ARMY
American Red Cross:
1-800-HELP NOW (1-800-435-7669)
Reporter:Sara Girard
Writer:Briana Harvath
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