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Storm Help: What, Where To Donate

Last updated on Wednesday, March 7, 2012

(INDIANAPOLIS)(WISH) - Donations of food, water and clothing are pouring in for those trying to get back on their feet in southern Indiana. But are those donations getting where they are needed most?

Bags of dog food, bottles of water and dozens of other disaster relief items are being collected by the central district of the United Methodist Churches. The donation truck sits in the parking lot of St. Luke's on the north side of Indianapolis. It is the third truckload of donations collected by the central district - an indication of how much people like Charlene Lee, who was donating diapers Tuesday, want to help.

"I was going to drive down to Scottsburg," Lee said, "but I didn't have time to do it today."

And officials said giving to churches, food banks and emergency relief agencies in your local area is a better idea than driving donations into affected areas yourself.

"It's just so hard for us to store and distribute and things like that," said Mike Rowland of The Salvation Army. "Only (Monday) night did we secure some warehouse space."

A church in Henryville packed with boxes of food, water and clothing is an example of what happens when the donations are just dropped off. Items pile up, distribution is slow and no one is sure who needs what.

"As we're down there longer, we're going to figure out what some of those needs are," Rowland said. "Do we need to get clothing? Do we need pallets of bottled water? Do we need food? And then we can collect some of those material goods. But we're still in the initial stages of our response there."

Specific needs right now, according to the Indiana Association of United Ways and the joint information center, include paper products, cleaning items, trash bags, personal hygiene items, baby goods, pet food and towels.

Money, however, is still the most important, and has a two-fold impact.

"It allows us to get what's needed," Rowland said. "We go down there, we assess what's needed and we get it right away. But also we can spend that money in those local communities and kind of get them back on their feet."

The United Methodist Church collection works because the group has a warehouse in Jeffersonville to store the donations. It can then distribute the items when and where they're needed. They'll be collecting until Sunday evening.

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