The official death toll from Hurricane Dorian, the category 5 storm that battered the Bahamas, hit 61 people last month. The record-breaking storm pulverized the islands with 200-miles-per-hour winds on Sept. 1 when it hit the Caribbean, making history as one of the most powerful hurricanes on record to ever devastate the area. More than 400 people were still reported missing across the country last month, and officials have said that the bodies of more victims are likely still trapped under rubble, if not washed out to sea. Hubert Minnis, the prime minister of the Bahamas, described the damage as “unprecedented.” The storm, while displacing at least 70,000 people, reportedly destroyed or damaged at least $3 billion in property. “Buildings were destroyed, roofs were torn off, trees were felled, streets and homes were flooded, and cars, boats, and debris were strewn everywhere,” according to a report from AIR Worldwide.
Minnis has specifically encouraged donors to give to the Salvation Army, which worked closely with the Bahamian government after the storm hit. The Grand Bahama Disaster Relief Foundation—an IRS-approved 501(c)(3) public charity based in Charleston, South Carolina—has also provided aid in the aftermath of the storm. It has pledged to send 100 percent of all donations to Grand Bahama.
El Paso victims
On Aug. 3, 2019, a gunman reportedly targeting Hispanic shoppers opened fire at a Walmart in El Paso, Texas, killing 22 people and injuring dozens more. While the superstore near the Mexican border reopened last month, the victims are still reeling from the emotional, physical, and financial effects of the mass shooting.
The El Paso Community Foundation set up a victims’ fund immediately after the massacre to help everyone affected by the shooting. Working together with the County and City of El Paso, the Foundation has set up various long-term services to help the victims, including a scholarship fund for the children of those shot, injured, or killed by the shooter and a long-term care fund for emerging symptoms and side effects. Another organization, Public Good, has set up a campaign for the El Paso community and any members that were affected by the shooting’s aftermath. The non-profit is also working with local El Paso organizations, like Paso Del Norte Community Foundation, to provide money and medical support.
Brazil's Amazon rainforest, the largest in the world, saw more than 39,194 fires this year—a 77 percent increase from the same period in 2018, The National Institute for Space Research announced in August. The Amazon rainforest is one of the planet's most important carbon stores and is home to one million indigenous people and no fewer than three million species of plants and animals. For those who live and work in the Amazon, and for international environmental activists, The New York Times said the fires are “an unmitigated disaster.” Unfortunately, many of the fires have been intentionally set as a means of clearing land for logging and cattle-herd grazing. “We wake up without being able to breathe properly,” Roberto Carlos da Silva, a 48-year-old ranch worker, told the Times. “Opening up more land for the cattle only helps the rich. The poor only suffer from putting up with the smoke while they work hard putting out the fires.”
The Rainforest Alliance announced in August that it would be redirecting 100 percent of its donations to organizations in Brazil working to “protect the Amazon and defend the rights of its Indigenous people.” Even without this initiative, the organization works year-round with communities to conserve forests around the world. Meanwhile, the Earth Alliance has formed an Amazon Forest Fund, featuring an initial commitment of $5 million from actor and philanthropist Leonardo DiCaprio.
Families detained Or separated at the border
The Trump administration has come under fire for many, many policies since the president took office in 2017, but his family separation policy—pulling children out of the arms of their asylum-seeking parents at the southern border—has caused some of the most outrage. And it never really ended, despite a court order to halt the policy in June 2018. Lawyers who visited one facility on the Texas border told the Associated Press that there was inadequate food, water, and sanitation in facilities for children and that, in lieu of adults, “kids were taking care of kids.” At least seven children have died in immigration custody since President Trump took office.
Though some may be tempted to provide items over money, The Texas Tribune reported over the summer that a U.S. Customs and Border Patrol facility near El Paso turned away some of those donations, including food, diapers, and toys. The Young Center advocates for the rights of immigrant children by providing attorneys, social workers, and child advocates. Every donation, up to $1 million, to the organization’s Waymaker Campaign will be matched by The Waymaker Fund for Immigrant Children, created by actors Blake Lively and Ryan Reynolds. Kids in Need of Defense also provides pro bono legal representation to children who have been forced to enter the immigration system alone.
The Ebola crisis
With so many other tragedies this year, the second-largest Ebola outbreak in history has received astonishingly limited news coverage. More than 2,000 people have died from the outbreak in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, another 3,286 people have contracted the illness as of Nov. 8, and The World Health Organization has declared it a public health emergency of international concern. The last Ebola crisis claimed more than 11,000 lives. Though the U.S. has jumped in with resources, sending personnel from the Centers for Disease Control and USAID Disaster Assistance Response Teams to the area, our government has reportedly kept them away from the hardest-hit areas for security reasons.
Those who want to help battle the outbreak can give to Doctors Without Borders and to Save the Children. (One-third of the patients currently diagnosed with Ebola are children, and 40 percent of children who contract the disease are under the age of five.)
Christchurch Shooting Victims
The Christchurch mosque shootings, where at least 51 people were killed after two consecutive terrorist attacks at two New Zealand mosques, left behind scenes of carnage from a sickening live-stream video and a 74-page manifesto from a gunman with a history of white nationalist views. Months later, the shooting has continued to leave a mark and has since been linked to an increase in white supremacism worldwide and have been referenced in a racist attack at Syracuse, the Pittsburgh Tree of Life shooting, and the Poway synagogue shooting.
The New Zealand government immediately reacted, establishing a ban on semi-automatic weapons days after the shooting and passing legislation that required all legally obtained military-grade firearms to be handed over to police in a trade-in scheme. But despite the quick action, the community is still struggling to rebuild after the deadliest mass shooting in New Zealand’s history.
The U.K.-founded, Muslim nonprofit Penny Appeal has partnered with its Australian offices to provide “ongoing practice support” and long-term support for victims with life-changing injuries from the March attacks. “Reading the news can make you feel hopeless; but when we stand together in solidarity, we can make a real difference to the victims of these attacks,” their campaign states. The Al Manar Trust, a local organization that launched an emergency campaign after the shooting, is focusing on the victims’ families. Offering long-term financial and spiritual support and resources to families struggling, the non-profit Islamic trust is focused on helping the Christchurch Muslim community.
Sri Lanka bombing Victims
The Easter Sunday terror bombings in Sri Lanka—believed to be the work of an ISIS-affiliated terror network—killed more than 200 people, including several Americans, and injured more than 500 others. Suicide bombers and others reportedly targeted four luxury hotels and three Catholic churches in highly populated areas. “It was a river of blood,” a witness named N. A. Sumanapala told the The New York Times.
“These vile attacks are a stark reminder of why the United States remains resolved in our fight to defeat terrorism,” former U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said at the time. Donations to the Sri Lanka Red Cross Society will go toward medical and psychological expenses for victims and family members, as well as educational support for the children who lost their parents.
The Syrian civil war has been raging for more than eight years, killing an estimated 400,000 Syrians, causing about 5.7 million people to flee the country, and displacing an estimated 2.6 million children. Updates tick by: Last month, The New York Times reported that Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s Russian allies intentionally bombed four hospitals in the opposition-held Idlib province in May, and just days ago, U.S. troops resumed large-scale counterterrorism missions against the Islamic State in northern Syria. The real, human impact is staggering, and about 50 percent of all registered Syrian refugees are under the age of 18.
UNICEF delivers clean water, emergency nutrition, vaccines, and education to those children.
Rebuilding Notre Dame
The iconic 800-year-old Cathedral of Notre-Dame in Paris, France caught fire on April 15, incinerating nearly everything but the church’s skeleton during a multi-million dollar renovation of the structure. The accidental blaze caught the world’s attention as the structure burned. “The horrific fire that is engulfing the Cathedral of Notre-Dame de Paris is shocking and saddens us all,” the U.S. Bishop’s Conference said in a statement at the time. “For this particular cathedral is not only a majestic Church, it is also a world treasure.” The fire released astronomical levels of lead into the air around the plaza and adjacent roads—between 32 and 65 times the recommended limit by French authorities.
Between $835 million and $1 billion was pledged toward the rebuild just days after the fire—far more than the estimated cost of the construction. But for those still moved to donate to the cause, in exchange for a $30 gift to the National Relief Network’s fund, donors get a free “Building Faith” T-shirt.
—Pilar Melendez contributed to this report.