Hurricane Maria: Here’s How to Help Victims in the Ravaged Caribbean

RICARDO ARDUENGO/AFP/GETTY

by Jason Duaine Hahn via people.com

On early Wednesday, Hurricane Maria made landfall on the 100-mile-long island of Puerto Rico, causing such tremendous damage with its 155-mph winds that it knocked out power for all 3.5 million residents.

Maria killed at least nine people on Dominica before it moved to Puerto Rico, where it toppled trees, tore roofs from buildings, and damaged reservoirs and rivers that—along with heavy rain—have caused severe flooding.

Though the hurricane is expected to move toward the Dominican Republic late Wednesday, Puerto Rico and Dominica will feel the effects of the storm for a long time to come. This comes just two weeks after ferocious Hurricane Irma destroyed much of the U.S. Virgin Islands and killed three people in Puerto Rico.

If you’d like to help out in helping victims of the storm, here some verified organizations assisting in the efforts.

Unidos Por Puerto Rico

Puerto Rico First Lady Beatriz Rosselló helped to establish Unidos Por Puerto Rico to help victims of Maria on the island, and donations can be sent by way of their website.

HECTOR RETAMAL/AFP/GETTY

Dominica Hurricane Relief Fund

Much of Dominica is in need of aid after Maria destroyed much of the small island. Officials say 70 to 80 percent of the island’s structures sustained storm damage, whether it be ripped-off roofs or complete destruction. Donations can be sent to the JustGiving page of the organization here.

ConPRmetidos

The nonprofit is based in Puerto Rico, and is accepting donations that will be first be used for the immediate needs of food, shelter and water, and later transitioned to long-term recovery efforts. You can donate to the organization here.

UNICEF

The United Nations fund is currently leading efforts to help young victims of both Irma and Maria, and the earthquake in Mexico. “We put children first in emergencies, committed to addressing the needs of the most vulnerable kids in the world,” the organization says. You can donate to them through their website.

GoFundMe

The fundraising website has collected a running list of dozens of pages that are collecting funds for hurricane relief in Dominica and Puerto Rico.

HECTOR RETAMAL/AFP/GETTY

Puerto Rican Hurricane Relief Fund

Started by a collection of Los Angeles-based groups connected to the Puerto Rican community, the Puerto Rican Hurricane Relief Fund will collect money until September 29, 2017, when they will pass the donations to nonprofits on the island.

To read more, go to: http://people.com/human-interest/hurricane-maria-heres-how-to-help-victims-in-the-ravaged-caribbean/

UPDATE: Hurricane Harvey Telethon on Sept. 12 to Include Beyoncé, Oprah, Kelly Rowland, Michael Strahan and More

Beyoncé, Jamie Foxx, and Oprah Winfrey (photo via oprah.com)

by Lori Lakin Hutcherson (@lakinhutcherson)

According to Variety.com, the telethon announced last Thursday on Instagram by Jamie Foxx will now also include appearances by Beyoncé, George Clooney, Julia Roberts, Barbra Streisand, Reese Witherspoon, and Oprah Winfrey, among others, that on Sept. 12 will raise money for Hurricane Harvey relief.

“Hand in Hand: A Benefit for Hurricane Harvey Relief” will air live at 8 p.m. ET across ABC, CBS, NBC, Fox, and basic cable channel CMT. Country superstar George Strait will appear on the telecast in concert from the Majestic Theater in San Antonio, Texas. The telecast will originate from the Universal Studios lot, Times Square and Nashville’s Grand Ole Opry.

Money raised from the event will be distributed to a range of charities aiding recovery efforts in Houston, which was devastated last week by the storm and widespread flooding left in Harvey’s wake. The organizations include the United Way of Greater Houston, Habitat for Humanity, Save the Children, Feeding Texas and the Mayor’s Fund for Hurricane Harvey Relief.

The death toll from Harvey has hit 63, according to CBS News. Tens of thousands of people in the southeast Texas region have been displaced from homes that were damaged or destroyed after days of torrential rain and winds.

Other celebrities set to appear in live or taped segments include Karlie Kloss, Rob Lowe, Matthew McConaughey, Dennis Quaid, Adam Sandler, Ryan Seacrest, and Blake Shelton.

“Hand in Hand” was the brainchild of music manager and producer Scooter Braun’s SB Projects. Braun and Allison Kaye will serve as executive producers along with Den of Thieves’ Jesse Ignjatovic and Evan Prager and Houston-based rapper Bernard ‘Bun B’ Freeman.

Philando Castile Fund Aims to Feed Children in Need, Wipe Out School Lunch Debt and Keep His Legacy Alive 

Philando Castile (photo via blavity.com)

via blavity.com

Over and over again, it has been proven that Philando Castile was a kind hearted and loving man. One thing that he often did as the cafeteria supervisor at J.J. Hill Montessori in St. Paul, MN was paid for the lunch of students who were unable to do so. “No child goes hungry so we ensure that every student has breakfast and also lunch whether they can pay or not,” Stacy Koppen, Nutritional Services Director for St. Paul Public Schools (SPPS) told WCCO.

Some students are eligible for free school lunch, but many aren’t. When students can’t pay for their lunch, they will run a debt. “Lunches just for one elementary student are about $400 a year,” Koppen said. “When a student couldn’t pay for their lunch, a lot of times (Castile) actually paid for their lunch out of his own pocket,” she said. Castile’s kind gesture moved the heart of one college professor to keep the ball rolling despite Castile’s untimely death.

Inver Hills Community College professor Pam Fergus typically assigns her students in her Diversity and Ethics class a service project, but this time created her own. “His death changed who I am,” Fergus said. Her project is called Philando Feeds the Children. The project started with a $5,000 goal that was then doubled and so far has raised over $13,800 with 90 days left to donate. Castile’s mother Valerie also told WCCO and Fergus she plans to match the final total with her own donation. “She said the only thing I want for my son is for people to remember him with honor and dignity,” said Fergus.

St. Paul Schools have also started their own campaign, Food For Thought, which allows people to make a donation to clear lunch debts.“That campaign helped us raise almost $40,000 (last year) and it helped almost 2,000 students who couldn’t pay for their meals,” said Koppen. “This year we have almost 900 students who currently appear that they need our help as well.”

To read more, go to: New Philando Castile Fund Aims To Wipe Out School Lunch Debt And Keep His Legacy Alive | BLAVITY

Here’s a List of Ways to Help Victims of Hurricane Harvey

(photo via huffingtonpost.com)

by Lee Moran, Hilary Hanson, Nick Robins-Early via huffingtonpost.com

The devastation from Hurricane Harvey continues to be felt throughout Texas, as heavy rains and catastrophic flooding are expecting to continue for days.Although the extent of the damage and death toll is not yet clear, the National Weather Service is already calling the storm “unprecedented.” Major highways are submerged in floodwaters, emergency services have received thousands of calls and authorities are urging residents to stay in place.

Recovering from the disaster could take years, according to the Federal Emergency Management Agency. There are an untold number of homes and people affected, and the additional flooding and rainfall is set to make the situation even worse.As emergency services, charities and aid groups gear up to address the massive need from Harvey, here are some ways that you can help.

1. Donate Or Volunteer

A plethora of organizations are appealing for donations to help them as they send volunteers and supplies to the hardest-hit areas.These include the American Red Cross, The Salvation Army, Samaritan’s Purse, Save The Children, the Southern Baptist Disaster Relief, and Heart to Heart International. Food banks throughout Texas are also accepting donations for people affected by the storm. You can donate money to Feeding Texas, a network of the state’s food banks, here. Additionally, the Elgin Courier has compiled a list of food bank locations throughout the region that may need donations of food or supplies. The local Texas Diaper Bank is putting together disaster relief kits for families with young children. You can donate here. There is also the Coalition For The Homeless, which helps coordinate shelters and outreach for the city’s vulnerable homeless population. Portlight is a local organization that offers relief to the disabled and older adults.

The Rockport-Fulton Chamber of Commerce is raising funds to assist in recovery efforts in those two communities, which were especially hard hit when the hurricane first made landfall. You can donate here. Crowdfunding site GlobalGiving has launched a hurricane relief fund aimed at gathering funds for local nonprofits in the storm-stricken region.Animal shelters and rescue groups are taking in numerous pets displaced by the storm ― ones that got lost in the chaos, were left behind, or simply need temporary housing while their owners stay in evacuation shelters. Those groups include the SPCA of Texas, Austin Pets Alive!, Dallas Animal Services and the San Antonio Humane Society. A number of online fundraising sites have also been set up through GoFundMe, with donations benefiting everything from hurricane and disaster relief groups to animals and families in need. The full list of fundraisers can be viewed on GoFundMe’s Hurricane Harvey Relief page.

2. Donate Blood

Blood centers expect a supply shortage because of the closure of some blood banks along the Texas coast and the likely demand stemming from injuries sustained in the storm. Centers have put out calls for extra donors to help deal with the aftermath. You can find donation centers or blood drives for the South Texas Blood & Tissue Center here, or for Texas organization Carter BloodCare here. And even if you’re not in Texas, you can search online for blood drives local to you or book an appointment via the Red Cross website.

3. Provide Accommodation For Evacuees

Airbnb has launched a portal so that the people who have been displaced by the hurricane can find a place to stay. It’s also waiving fees for people affected by the disaster. More details are available on the Airbnb website here.

Source: Here’s How To Help The Victims Of Hurricane Harvey | HuffPost

Rozetia Ellis, Former Seamstress at now-Bankrupt Bridal Store, Becomes Hero for Brides-To-Be

Rozetia Ellis (photo via cbsnews.com)

by David Begnaud via cbsnews.com

Alfred Angelo‘s slogan “your dream, your dress” became “your loss” when the bridal giant abruptly closed last month, declared bankruptcy and left brides-to-be lined up and stood up. “I thought we’re never gonna see ’em again. Let’s not even bother. They’re gone,” said Stephanie Huey. And they were gone. Both of Stephanie Huey’s bridesmaids dresses, as well as the dresses of the other heartbroken women who purchased at an Oklahoma City store.

Rozetia Ellis took them home. “Loaded in my car, front, trunk, back seat, side panel, on the floor board, until they stacked all the way up to the top,” Ellis said. She was a contracted seamstress of the store who had lost her job but rescued those dresses. “At that point we thought, ‘Oh my gosh, thank you.’ You know, we were so grateful,” Huey said.

But Rose, as she’s known, had one more surprise. At her home in Tulsa, she was working on a special wedding gift. Stitch by stitch, she is altering more than 80 dresses for free. “I was dumbfounded. Honestly dumbfounded,” Huey said. “My integrity says I have to, ok? So, you have standards for yourself then you live up to those standards,” Ellis said.

Once a week, Ellis fills her car with dresses and drives 110 miles to an Oklahoma City hotel to deliver them. Motivated to do something, Huey has raised at least $5,600 for Ellis through a Go Fund Me page. “It’s going down fast — I’ve been just a busy bee,” Ellis said. The Oklahoma grandmother says she will continue working 15-hour days and making those weekly drive to meet the brides, until the 20 or so gowns that are left fit just right.

To read full article and see video, go to: Former Alfred Angelo seamstress becomes hero for desperate brides-to-be – CBS News

10 Year-Old Bishop Curry is Creating Device to Prevent Infants From Dying In Hot Cars

Bishop Curry (photo via huffingtonpost.com)

by Zahara Hill via huffpost.com

After Bishop Curry heard his neighbor’s 6-month-old infant died from being in an overheated car, he decided to create a life-saving device to prevent incidents like this from reoccurring ― as any responsible 10-year-old would. “It kind of came in my head,” Bishop told HuffPost of his device, the Oasis.

The Oasis would respond to rising temperatures by emitting cool air and use an antenna to signal parents and authorities. At the moment, Bishop only has a 3-D clay model of the device, but his father, Bishop Curry IV, began a GoFundMe campaign for the Oasis in January. “I got lots of help from my parents,” Bishop said. Attorneys advised the family that the minimum amount they’d need for prototyping and manufacturing fees, as well as a patent for the device, is $20,000.

The GoFundMe campaign has already exceeded that $20,000 goal and, as of Monday, has raised over $23,700. Bishop, who will begin sixth grade in the fall, told Fox News last week that in addition to his parents, his classmates and friends are fully behind him on his projects. “They want to work for me,” he said. Last June, CNN reported that the number of hot-car deaths had nearly tripled compared to the same time in 2015, which had 24 hot-car deaths in total. When Curry grows up, he wants to center his career around inventions, including a time machine.

Source: This 10-Year-Old Is Creating A Device To Prevent Infants From Dying In Hot Cars | HuffPost

Joy Bishara and Lydia Pogu, Two Escaped Boko Haram Abductees, Graduate From High School in VA, Head to Southeastern University

(photo via instagram.com)

by Taryn Finley via huffpost.com

Two of the nearly 300 Nigerian schoolgirls kidnapped by Boko Haram in 2014 are telling their story. Joy Bishara, 20, and Lydia Pogu, 19, are among the 57 girls who were able to escape from the terrorist group. The duo gave People Magazine a detailed account of horrors they faced when the gunmen invaded their school in Chibok, Nigeria, and the events that followed.

The girls were sleeping when the invasion occurred. They woke to the sounds of gunshots and bombs. Pogu told People that men in uniforms stormed into their dorm and told them they were officers who were there to protect them. But the girls said they knew they weren’t real officers based on the way they described themselves.

“We were all crying and screaming. They told us to keep quiet or they’re going to kill us. So they start to shoot their guns up on top of us, making us quiet. All of us were scared. We were just holding each other,” Bishara said. “They asked us to follow them, we should go with them. When we tried going with them, some of us start running … then they went and put us all back together and said, ‘OK, you all have to cooperate or else we are going to just shoot any girl who just followed a different direction that we didn’t point.”

She said they gave the girls an ultimatum: run away and die or get on a truck and leave with them. Once the truck drove away with the girls on it, it created clouds of dust, making it difficult to see behind the truck. Girls began jumping from the truck and running away in different directions. Bishara and two other girls found each other in the bush and were able to stop a motorcyclist, who brought them back to Chibok.

Bishara and Pogu were able to return back to their families. In August of the same year, the duo and several other girls who escaped moved to the United States to complete school. With the help of a Christian nonprofit and a Nigerian activist group, they were able to attend boarding school in Virginia. Bishara and Pogu transferred their senior year and recently graduated from Canyonville Christian Academy. Both gave speeches at the ceremony. They will be attending Southeastern University in Florida in the fall and have started a GoFundMe to help with their expenses.

In April 2014, Boko Haram abducted as many as 276 schoolgirls from Chibok. The girls were subjected to rape, torture, starvation and forced marriages. They were also forced to join the group’s army. This sparked the #BringBackOurGirls campaign online and caught the attention of notable figures, including former first lady Michelle Obama.

To read more, go to: 2 Escaped Boko Haram Victims Graduate From High School | HuffPost