How to Be a Hurricane Helper

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The images of Hurricane Harvey's devastation in Texas and Louisiana are heartbreaking and frightening. And the arrival of Hurricane Irma causes anxiety as well. But we have also been heartened by the stories of those who have stepped up - even risking their own lives - to rescue their neighbors. There are things your family can do to help, too. Take this opportunity to talk to your children about how much you admire these big-hearted heroes - and how your family might follow their example. Choose how you will become a Hurricane Harvey helper, and remind your children how much your family values kindness.

-Jenny Friedman, Executive Director


Make a Difference...

  • Monetary donations are best, especially in the early days of a disaster. Organize a family fundraiser, and donate the proceeds to hurricane relief efforts. You can throw a party that includes a request for donations, or host an auction, neighborhood carnival, or dance-a-thon. When donating your funds, check out BBB Wise Giving AllianceCharity Navigator, and CharityWatch to choose a reputable nonprofit (and avoid scams). These watchdog groups have lists of highly rated organizations. A new opportunity to donate has come about with the work of the past five former U.S. Presidents. Visit to donate to those affected in Texas, Florida, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands.

  • Create emergency clean-up buckets. Church World Service will be providing clean-up buckets (with needed supplies) and hygiene kits to Harvey victims. Together with your children, purchase the listed items, assemble the kits, and mail them to your nearest collection site.
  • Create Stars of Hope. The idea here is to decorate wooden stars to send messages of hope and healing to disaster victims. Make this a family activity, or make this project an adjunct to a fundraiser. (The address to send your creations to the 2017 Houston victims will be available soon.)

  • Family-to-Family offers opportunities for donor families to connect with families dealing with hunger and poverty. The organization is known for its holiday Adopt-A-Child or Family program (as featured on our website), and now they're offering the program to help those affected by the hurricanes. 


Talk About It...

Tips for talking to your kids about hurricanes (and other disasters):

  • Let your children tell you what they already know about this natural disaster ("What have you heard?"), and listen carefully as they voice their thoughts, questions and concerns.

  • Be aware of your children's ages, personalities and maturity levels. Don't provide too much detail about issues they can't understand or process. Keep your explanations simple and direct.

  • Talk about the helpers. Reinforce that when disasters happen, there are many people who step up to lend a hand. Tell stories of first responders and others who are making a difference for victims.

  • Talk about the natural world -its beauty and its challenges. Children can learn more about hurricanes by reading Magic School Bus Inside a Hurricane by Joanna Cole, or Hurricanes by Gail Gibbons. If children ask whether such a thing could happen where they live, be honest but reassuring, and let them know you'll keep them safe.

  • Limit your child's access to TV and other media with graphic images, especially if your youngster is sensitive or anxious.

  • Explain to children that all of us are in need of aid and comfort at times, and that when we help one another, the world is a better place. Ask about when they've needed help and share with them the times when you have both given and received assistance. Then decide together what your family can do to support folks affected by Hurricane Harvey.

Learn About It...

The Rhino Who Swallowed a Storm by LeVar Burton and Susan Schaefer Bernardo. This tale helps children -- especially those who have experienced a traumatic storm or loss -- cope with big fears. The rhyming verse draws us immediately into Rhino's world, where a storm has upended his home. The description of Rhino's inner turmoil after "swallowing the storm" will be recognizable to every child who has experienced fear or worry. In the end, focusing on the helpers and on hope helps Rhino release his storm.


"Do not be dismayed by the brokenness of the world. All things break. And all things can be mended. Not with time, as they say, but with intention. So go. Love intentionally, extravagantly, unconditionally. The broken world waits in darkness for the light that is you." 
-L.R. Knost, American author