Disaster Donations/ Volunteering


When a disaster strikes, you’re likely to see people in need. You want to help; right now!

Well meaning, but inappropriate donations can cause more trouble then sending nothing at all.  A good rule of thumb is that clothing is almost never needed.  There is simply no storage space.  The right kind of donation, however, can exactly match disaster survivors’ needs and give them renewed hope. The same is true for volunteering.

Here are some steps to make sure your contribution has a positive, long-term impact:



 1. Check with disaster response programs in the affected areas.  Find out what exactly is needed and what they will need later on.

 2.  Decide how your help will be most needed.   Cash is usually preferred over material donations, as it can be used to purchase goods and services in the affected community, often boosting the local economy that was devastated by the disaster. Response teams at the site can acquire exactly what they need right away based on assessments. Cash makes it possible for them to purchase items difficult to obtain or ship. Be selective where you send cash, making sure your money goes specifically to aid the disaster survivors. If you believe that clothing, household goods, people to rebuild homes, would be appropriate think about shipping and handling – make a plan and identify a local contact point. 

 3. Ask others to join you in your response. Working together is usually more effective because there are more people and resources available. Be specific in requesting donations.


1. Volunteers may be needed to clean up debris, rebuild homes, or simply comfort survivors. Particular skills or tools are in demand at a disaster site, but make certain the disaster affected community is ready to accommodate the volunteers. Volunteer coordinators working for the disaster response organizations can help schedule your visit, arrange housing and meals, and plan meaningful projects.   http://www.Whatcomvolunteer.org provides timely volunteer information for Whatcom County.

2. Before a disaster occurs become involved/ trained by a volunteer organization like:

CERT- Community Emergency Response Team

The CERT program educates people about disaster preparedness for hazards that may impact their area, and trains them in basic disaster response skills, such as fire safety, light search and rescue, team organization, and disaster medical operations. Using the training learned in the classroom and during exercises, CERT members can assist others in their neighborhood or workplace following an event when professional responders are not immediately available to help. CERT members also are encouraged to join the active Whatcom County team and assist in CERT training and emergency preparedness projects in their community.


Red Cross -Mt. Baker Chapter of the American Red Cross

The Red Cross offers a variety of preparedness programs depending on your needs and group. Thanks to the generosity of individuals, companies and foundations, all preparedness programs are free of charge.

Community Disaster EducationIf you have a group of ten or more people, the Red Cross will come to you and give a free preparedness presentation tailored specifically for your needs.

 Workplace Disaster Preparedness TrainingIf you are a business or non-profit agency, disaster preparedness training is critical to maintaining safety and ensuring everyone knows what to do in the event of a disaster or emergency.


Whatcom County Search and Rescue Council -Made up of numerous groups/ agency.

A Search & Rescue Counsel based in Whatcom County. The Whatcom County Search & Rescue Council, a is one of the most diverse SAR groups in the state. It consists of several specialty groups, including teams that work with dogs, the ground search, the swift-water , horses, and ATVs. Some members carry other rescue credentials, such as EMTs, low angle rescue, confined space rescue, and more. Each group trains to an exceptional level within their specialty in addition to the basic requirements of a good SAR responder.


MRC -Medical Reserve Corps of Whatcom County

The mission of the Medical Reserve Corps (MRC) is to allow local volunteer medical and health professionals to contribute their skills and expertise throughout the year as well as during times of community need. Our Medical Reserve Corps unit is made of medical and health volunteers who can assist our community during emergencies, such as an earthquake or influenza epidemic. Now retired professionals who held a valid Washington medical license and are registered as volunteers with the Medical Reserve Corps are now eligible to receive a retired medical volunteer license. This license allows you to practice up to the level of your previous credential when participating in an official Medical Reserve Corps event.


3. Community Organizations Active in Disaster (COAD) was formed to help the community by linking needs to services during disaster and recovery efforts. The mission of the Whatcom County COAD is to identify and organize resources to meet disaster-related community needs. If you belong to an organization that would like to join COAD please start by taking a look at their COAD Flyer/ resource form. Then fill out and send it in.