We scoured the Internet looking for canned food, bottles of water, and anything that could possibly withstand power outages. With each scroll and every item marked out of stock, I felt my stomach turn in knots. Hurricanes don’t usually hit the center of the Carolinas, but Irma was expected to come straight for us. I wanted to be prepared.

Preparing For The Storm

I remembered my family going weeks without power in the aftermath of Hurricane Hugo. It wasn’t pleasant, but it was definitely bearable. However, I had no idea how it would go this time around with a 3-year-old and an 8-month-old in tow. I imagined not having enough food, running out of diapers, or everyone having to wear stained clothes because we couldn’t wash anything. My anxiety got the best of me.

I typically avoid grocery stores and the unexplained bread and milk frenzy when meteorologists warn about an impending storm, but this time—with online shopping limited—I was right in the middle of it (only I wasn’t buying milk or bread).

Hurricane Damage And Relief

Hurricane Irma into the Caribbean around the end of August as a Category 5 and some there described the damage by saying it was nothing like they’d ever seen. Meanwhile, the storm hit Florida as a Category 4. Thankfully though, Irma weakened dramatically by the time it got to us. We saw some heavy rain, but skirted any serious damage or outages. Around the same time, Hurricane Harvey made landfall, causing record rain and severe flooding in Texas and Louisiana. A few weeks later, Hurricane Maria devastated the US territory of Puerto Rico.

hurricanes-Hurricane Harvey aftermath
Photo Credit: David J. Phillip / AP

Hurricane victims are still trying to recover and rebuild, but people are working to help the relief efforts. And it’s a beautiful thing.

People all over the country are making donations to various organizations to help those in the affected areas. Celebritiessingers, athletes, and even former presidents are raising money while others you wouldn’t expect are also giving what they can to the cause.

Earlier this month, the Texas Department of Criminal Justice announced that inmates donated more than $53,000 through their commissary to help the people of Texas. The commissary is made of personal funds that inmates no longer control. Loved ones can also put money in the online accounts. Typically, the money goes toward things like art supplies, toiletries, and snacks that aren’t funded by the department.

According to the agency’s Facebook page, the prisoners had the option to donate to The Red Cross in one dollar increments. And they gave the money over the course of about a month, from August 31-September 30.

The page also says this wasn’t the first time prisoners there asked to help hurricane victims. They donated more that $40,000 to the Red Cross after Hurricane Katrina.

Doing Much With Little

Reading about those inmates raised that money reminds me of how God can work in our lives. He can take the little we give him and do amazing things with it. Take the story of Jesus feeding the five thousand (Matthew 14:13-21). The disciples saw that those who followed Jesus to a desolate area needed food, but they thought their five loaves and two fish would not be enough to help. Yet, Jesus used it anyway. The crowd came away both fed and satisfied.

Even though this active hurricane season has left us with so many to help and so much work to do, it’s nice to be reminded that our little can count for something. We don’t have to give thousands like celebrities. We can give what we can. It can be multiplied. And it can help.

I often hear disaster relief workers say giving money is the most ideal way to help those in need. There are several charities and organizations to choose from, but to make sure the one you choose is reputable, you can check its rating on Charity Navigator or Charity Watch.

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