HORRY COUNTY, SC (WMBF) - It seems when disaster strikes, the true spirit of America comes forth, with many people stepping up to help their fellow brothers and sisters in Texas and Louisiana, including those in South Carolina.
However, it's unfortunate that those with a heart to give have to watch out for those that have a mind to steal.
"A natural disaster, a disaster of any kind, there's no shortage of crooks. There really isn't," says Dr. John D'Ambrosio, president of the Better Business Bureau of Coastal Carolinas.
If you are considering donating, D'Ambrosio says first do your research and learn what charities are out there. Check charity watchdog websites to find organizations to consider. The lists are expected to be updated in the days to come.
"The ones that are listed we know to be honest and truthful, and will help the people. The money will go where it's meant to go," D'Ambrosio said.
He added that if you give to a charity not listed on those sites, that doesn't mean it's not legitimate. It just means you have to learn more about who you're giving to before you give.
According to the ConsumerReports.org, donate intelligently, watch out for fraud and avoid middlemen. Some charities raise money to forward to other groups that may be helping. Your money will go further if you donate to the organization directly.
While supplies, clothing, food and other essentials are needed, moving such items can create challenges, like expensive shipping costs. It's a lot easier to send money, so those organizations can purchase what is needed locally or regionally.
Be careful about donating to crowdfunding sources. It's difficult to tell whether an appeal on sites like GoFund Me or You Caring are legitimate, or whether your donations will be used for the stated purpose. The most reliable way to give through crowdfunding is to help someone you know personally.
Also, think about being more actively involved.
Volunteer for organizations like the American Red Cross, which may need more help to cover the area locally, as other volunteers are sent to Texas.
Also, donate blood to your local blood bank.
Then there is pet adoption, as animal welfare organizations in Texas have taken in pets that are going to need new, loving homes.
Finally, the effects of Harvey are likely to be felt for months and years to come. People will need help now, and more helping hands as they begin the road to recovery.