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While volunteers often have roles that are well-planned in advance, sometimes the people around us face crises and there are opportunities to help. Whether it’s a house fire, serious illness, or other issue, rallying around friends, family members, or community residents who have had a serious issue arise can make a big difference in that person’s or family’s life. Here are a few ways to help.

Make Life Easier

In the immediate aftermath of a serious crisis, the individuals’ needs will vary based on the situation. If someone has been sick or is recovering, the family may need help with meals, childcare, or other day-to-day tasks. Making or sending a meal that can simply be reheated is a kindness that may be appreciated. (Do find out if there are food restrictions or allergies in the family.) Several websites like Lotsa Helping Hands and Meal Train let you organize a group of people online to help with meals and other tasks. If there is someone close to the individual or family who can share the most immediate needs, that’s a good way to prioritize what needs to be done.

Meet Basic Needs

Depending on the crisis, the needs may be more significant. If the home has been damaged or the family needs another place to stay, turn to organizations like the American Red Cross, which can provide shelter, financial, and other assistance. Charitable organizations and churches may have access to clothing, food, and other necessities if the family needs those, as well.

Navigate the Paperwork

Once the immediate crisis is managed, there’s still work to be done. If there is damage to the home, it may need to be secured. Your family member or friend may need help contacting the insurance company or accessing other resources necessary. The Federal Emergency Management Agency offers individual assistance for people who have been through disasters. If the individual needs help accessing other public benefits, you may be able to help there, too.

Get Prepared

Being prepared for an emergency is always a good idea. Create the Good® has a handy disaster preparation do-it-yourself (DIY) guide that can help you get started. Be sure to download and review it. You can also visit the Health and Safety section of the website for more tips on disaster preparedness and preserving health and well-being.