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The best ways to help hurricane-displaced kids

By Betsy Flagler
John Rosemond
Betsy Flagler, who lives in Davidson, writes the nationally syndicated Parent to Parent column.

Amid all the election coverage, kids whose families were hit hard by Hurricane Sandy may be wondering: “Does anybody care about me and my lost blankie?” Our answer needs to be “yes.” Displaced children are longing for a little piece of normalcy.

How can you and your children help out? Empty the piggy banks and donate. The storm gives parents a natural way to teach their children important lessons about empathy and the fact that it is better to give than to receive.

After a tornado ravaged towns in Virginia last year, a boy from Huntersville, N.C., sniffed soaps at a local drugstore until he found just what he wanted to take to his preschool teacher, who was collecting supplies for her hometown.

The boy and his classmates helped turn their art tables into a care-package assembly line, filling bags and boxes with soaps, candy, stickers, bracelets and bouncy balls. The children said not a peep about taking anything for themselves. They focused on others whose toys had been “torn up” by a tornado. It was easy for them to give when they felt safe at home and preschool. Talk to your school’s parent-teacher organization to see what your school can do for students in the Northeast.

While sending clothing to disaster-stricken towns can sound like a good idea, donated clothes after hurricanes Andrew and Katrina turned into unmanageable truckloads – more trouble than solution. Instead, donate cash to credible organizations that can then direct resources where they’re needed most. Two of the biggest such organizations are:

• The United Way Hurricane Sandy Recovery Fund. Go to unitedwaynyc.org for more information.

• The American Red Cross. To donate online, go to redcross.org. You can also mail a check to: American Red Cross, P.O. Box 37243, Washington, D.C. 20013. To donate by phone, call 800-RED-CROSS or give up to $10 by texting “REDCROSS” to 90999.

Betsy Flagler is a mother and preschool teacher. Email her at p2ptips@att.net or call 704-236-9510.

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