May 27, 2011


Disaster Relief Agencies Urge Public to Donate Wisely to Joplin Survivors

by Harvesters Community Food Network

There has been a tremendous outpouring of public support for the survivors of Sunday night’s (May 22, 2011) tornado in Joplin, MO. However, emergency response officials on-site are reporting that the town of Joplin has been overwhelmed with unsolicited donations, which divert precious resources from services needed by disaster survivors.

To help better manage the public support for Joplin tornado survivors, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and the Missouri Food Bank Association (MFBA) joined forces with Harvesters—The Community Food Network to alert other organizations and the public about the most effective ways to help, whether volunteering or donating resources.

“When a tragedy like the devastating tornado in Joplin occurs, we all want to do something to help,” said Karen Haren, Harvesters’ president and CEO. “Food banks in the Missouri Food Bank Association are working with FEMA to get the word out about useful things people can do to support the Joplin relief efforts.”

Harvesters works through the Missouri Food Bank Association to coordinate disaster response in conjunction with FEMA and the Missouri State Emergency Management Agency (SEMA). The Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster and FEMA offer those who want to help, or who are impacted by the disaster, the following advice:        

To Volunteer or Donate

The easiest way to help is to call 2-1-1 in most areas in Missouri to volunteer time or make a donation. For those who are out of state or unable to get through on 2-1-1, call 1-800-427-4626. Cash is the best because it offers voluntary agencies the most flexibility in obtaining the most-needed resources. Confirm what is needed BEFORE taking action!

Donate in-kind goods that are specifically requested or needed by recognized organizations. Unsolicited donated goods such as used clothing, miscellaneous household items, and mixed or perishable foodstuffs require helping agencies to redirect valuable resources away from providing services to sort, package, transport, warehouse, and distribute items that may not meet the needs of disaster survivors. Confirm the needs by contacting the voluntary organization of your choice before starting to collect. 

If you have a quantity of a given item or class of item to donate, and you need help in determining which organizations to give to, you can make an offer at  and click on Missouri.

Information for Disaster Survivors

Sheltering: Missourians who need disaster information, shelter information or referrals also are urged to call 2-1-1 or 800-427-4626. 

Locate a loved one: Residents affected by the tornado wanting to notify friends and family that they are safe, should go online to To check on a loved one, go online to the same site. It’s easy, free and only basic information is needed. If you are not able to go online, call 417-659-5464 to register or find someone who has registered.

File an insurance claim: Call your agent to get this process started.

Register for FEMA disaster aid: Persons in Newton and Jasper counties are now eligible to apply for federal disaster assistance. The process is free, takes about 20 minutes and is available three ways:

1) Call toll-free registration at 1-800-621-3362; for those who are speech or hearing impaired, use TTY (800) 462-7585
2) Apply online at
3) Apply on Smartphones at

This assistance for individuals — both homeowners and renters — can help with minimal home repairs, temporary rental assistance and other serious, disaster-related expenses not covered by insurance or other programs. Survivors should keep in mind that registering for other forms of disaster aid is not the same as registering for FEMA assistance. A separate registration with FEMA is required to start the process.

To Donate to Harvesters

Donate Money online at Note “disaster relief” in the comments section.

Donate Food: To schedule a food drive, go to and click on Give Food or call toll-free 877-653-9517.  Harvesters’ most needed items are:

Canned vegetables
Canned fruit
Boxed meals (Hamburger Helper, etc.)
Canned meat/tuna
Cereal, hot and cold
Household products:
Toilet Paper

Volunteer at Harvesters: To schedule a time to volunteer, go to  and click on Give Time or call toll-free 877-653-9516. 

About the Federal Emergency Management Agency

FEMA’s mission is to support our citizens and first responders to ensure that as a nation we work together to build, sustain, and improve our capability to prepare for, protect against, respond to, recover from, and mitigate all hazards.

About the Missouri Food Bank Association

The MFBA is a coalition of six Feeding America food banks in Missouri serving every county in the state.  Last year, Missouri’s food banks distributed over 88 million pounds of food to hungry Missourians through a network of over 1,000 food pantries, shelters, and kitchens.

About Harvesters—The Community Food Network

Harvesters is this area’s only food bank and recently was named 2011 Food Bank of the Year by Feeding America. Serving a 26-county area of northwestern Missouri and northeastern Kansas, Harvesters provides food and related household products to more than 620 not-for-profit agencies including emergency food pantries, soup kitchens, homeless shelters, children’s homes, homes for the mentally disabled and shelters for battered persons. Agencies in Harvesters’ network provide food assistance to as many as 66,000 different people each week. Harvesters, which was founded in 1979, is a certified member of Feeding America, a nationwide network of more than 200 food banks, serving all 50 states. For more information, visit  

Editor’s Note: To Donate Blood

Locally, Community Blood Center has learned from many of its hospital partners that victims were transported to a number of Kansas City-area hospitals for surgeries and that the demand for life-saving blood will increase as the rescue and relief effort continues.

Local citizens interested in donating with Community Blood Center at a mobile blood drive should go online to or call 888-0647-4040 to book an appointment and learn more about how easy it is to save a life in less than an hour. Additionally, donors can visit one of CBC’s seven Neighborhood Donation Centers located in Kansas City, Topeka, St. Joseph, Gladstone, Blue Springs, Olathe or Overland Park.