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When helping disaster victims, be cautious about what you donate

Posted at 5:13 PM, Oct 10, 2016
and last updated 2016-10-10 17:13:44-04

The Salvation Army of Tampa Bay has been assisting those impacted by Hurricane Matthew since last week when the Category 4 storm hit. 

When finding ways to help, a reminder to be cautious about your donations.

"After a disaster, a lot of people just want to help," said local Salvation Army Director Kevin Smith.

Smith helped us breakdown what things really don't help, like used clothing.

"There's a time and a place for those donations," but the director goes on to say that used clothing become hard to coordinate in a life-threatening disaster zone. 

"It has to be sorted, find out actual sizes, then it would have to be transported to the disaster area and unsorted," he said. 

Along with the mess it can bring, shipping costs can become pricey, especially overseas like Haiti.

Another item to not donate, toys for children.

As children are grieving from tragedies, it is human nature to want to try and help, but toys also can get lost in the clutter. 

The Salvation Army gladly takes toys though especially for kids in need during the local holiday season. 

Bottled water can also be an item that becomes more difficult to manage. 

Smith points out that most times, water is being delivered internally from corporate partners the day a disaster happens, like Nestle. Co. 

Not to mention, the cost of delivering cases can be expensive especially because of different size water bottles and cases. 

"People really don't see that we've distributed several semi loads of water the day the disaster happened," said Smith. 

Nonperishable foods can also be hard to ship because of costs especially overseas.

Those items also have strict guidelines for sell by dates and expiration dates, and in a time of need -- every second counts.

The Salvation Army has pallets of essential food supply kits and other necessities already waiting to be shipped at any time. 

That's why the relief organization asks for monetary donations, to help purchase what is needed. 

Smith also acknowledges donations also help pump money back into those struggling economies. 

For more information on donations, click here.