How you can donate to Japan's Earthquake/Tsunami effort safely -, South Georgia News, Weather, Sports

How you can donate to Japan's Earthquake/Tsunami effort safely

By Jennifer Emert - bio | email

ALBANY, GA (WALB) -  With thousands feared missing in Japan and the relief effort just getting underway many are wondering how they can help?

South Georgians are no strangers to disasters and the need for assistance. As relief organization begin to collect donations and companies start offering assistance, you need to be careful who you trust and where you put your donation.

Communication in Japan is still tough so AT&T is allowing its customers in the U.S. to call and text families in Japan free through the end of March. Many companies are making it easy to donate, through a simple text message, and you're urged to donate through the charitable organizations you know and trust.

When flood waters covered much of Albany in 1994 and '98, work crews also came flooding in from all over the country and now south Georgia is quick to return the favor.

"We remember what it's like, we've had or own disasters here, I mean you think of the floods of 1994, 1998 and the impact that had on our community and where we would be or in fact where we wouldn't be if it hadn't been for others reaching out," said Captain Doug McClure, The Salvation Army.

The area gave well more than $6,000 for the Haiti earthquake just through the Salvation Army and they're likely to donate to Japan. So how do you know your donation will go where you want it to and its not a scam?

"My recommendation is always to stick with the charities you trust. Most of your national charities usually have relief efforts," said McClure.

The Salvation Army is making it easy to donate using their web site, or your cell phone by texting Japan or Quake to make a 10 dollar donation. The Red Cross is doing the same.

"They can go online to, they can send a donation to Washington D.C. to our headquarters, they can come by here and make a donation and we will make sure it goes. They can designate their funds to Japanese, or the Japan Pacific Earthquake and Tsunami," said Mari Wright Philanthropy Director, American Red Cross.

Both the Red Cross and Salvation Army say the need is for monetary donations, not items, because of the expense to transport them.

"They're still assessing and seeing what they need. We sent representatives Sunday on the committee to go out and I think seven red crosses around the world are on this committee to go and assess what needs to be done," said Wright.

The Red Cross has also set up a family assistance web site for missing family members to reach out to loved one and let them know they're okay. AT&T will also not charge customers for international long distance calls from the U.S. to Japan up to 60 minutes and free texting from wireless numbers.

The Better Business Bureau says unfortunately there are those that will try to take advantage of the situation. They recommend never giving your credit card number over the phone for a donation, and always make the donation in the form of a check, never cash. Be wary if the charity is reluctant to answer reasonable questions.

You can check out the Better Business Bureau's web site at

to research organizations you're considering supporting. An estimated 200,000 people in Japan are living in temporary shelters. Fifty-thousand troops have been dispatched to help with the recovery effort.

You can also find a list of charitable organization, at

and on Senator Saxby Chambliss' web site at

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