'What Can I Do?'

Things you can do today to help the victims of Hurricane Katrina.

"What can I do?"

That's the question that is on the lips of millions of Americans as they contemplate the intense need that Hurricane Katrina left in its wake. Relief organizations and government agencies alike are stressing that the best way people can help the hurricane relief effort is by donating money. That's why Beliefnet has pledged to add an extra $1000 to its contribution for every 100 Beliefnet users who donate

to these charities


But if you can't donate money, or just want to do more, here are some concrete actions you can take to make a difference in the lives of so many:

1. Get Creative with Your Congregation


Across the country, houses of worship are coming together to help the relief effort. For example, a church in Roanoke, VA owns a campground with "really nice concretebuildings of rooms with heat/AC, beds, chairs, and dressers in each room," says reader Deborah C. The campground is taking in 35-40 families. Some wealthy members of Beliefnet member Hlharper01's congregation came together and arranged to donate their vacation condominiums indefinitely to families in need of a place to stay while they figure out what their next step will be. Hlharper01



, "I wouldn't join a church who didn't help those in need, in crisis and at other times."


The new organization

was launched with the purpose of helping willing congregations make a difference.

2. Send Needed Items--Like Garbage Bags, Batteries & Toilet Paper

The Episcopal Diocese of Mississippi has posted a frequently updated

list of items

that are desperately needed in the region. Mail items such as extension cords, batteries, garbage bags, bandages, toilet paper, and blankets to Ascension Lutheran Church, 6481 Old Canton Road, Jackson, MS 39236. The St. Vincent de Paul Society of Houston is also in need of items like Clorox wipes, hearing aid batteries, and denture supplies (

see list

). A caveat: Relief agencies say that unsolicited donations of goods, while well-intentioned, are not recommended. Only send goods if they are specifically requested.

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Holly Lebowitz Rossi
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