The Junior League of Pensacola understands first-hand the chaos and devastation, both to property and to the community, that follows a major natural disaster. Osnce the dust (or, more likely, water) has settled and after the news cycle has long forgotten us, there is still so much more work that needs to be done. Returning to “normal” can seem like an impossible dream.
We consider ourselves fortunate not to have suffered as much as other communities have in recent years, but memories of our own recovery and the pain associated with it feels fresh and new when we watch our neighbors suffer. Our hearts ache for those who are facing reconstruction of not only their homes, but also their memories and sense of community.
Whenever disaster strikes, we reach out to AJLI and individual Presidents of our sister Leagues. We share with our members and the Pensacola community specific ways that they can help the affected Leagues and their communities.
How we respond
Immediately after a disaster, or even before as an inevitable catastrophic storm looms, the best way to help is by providing funding. Monetary donations can be used in a pinch to make sure that, in the short-term, the community’s most basic needs are being met. We do not want anyone to have to wait days or weeks for support, so our first port-of-call is a fundraising campaign on their behalf.
Most charities and non-profits will urge well-intentioned folks not to send donations of supplies like clothing and food. In the midst of a crisis, there may not be an address to ship to anymore and the infrastructure (e.g. roads, bridges) will be compromised. That makes the logistics of safely receiving, sorting, and distributing items extremely challenging. Monetary donations are almost always easier to organize and collect, and they can be used in ways that will provide the most help.
Only once a network of disaster response workers and volunteers are established, can we begin the work of collecting donations of goods. Local leaders and residents are the best resources for knowing what parts of their communities have specific needs and how incoming donations can best be distributed. The most requested items generally are:
- New socks and underwear (including bras and onesies) for men, women, children and infants
- Toiletries and feminine hygiene products
- Baby formula, baby wipes, bottles, bottom rash cream, diapers and pull-ups
- Graco Pac n’ Plays (or similar) for babies and toddlers to sleep in
- Prepaid calling cards, prepaid wifi and call plans, and no-contract cell phones
- Gift cards to major retailers, grocers, and pharmacies to aid in recovery (Walmart, Home Depot, Target, Amazon, CVS, Publix)
Disaster response committee
The Junior League of Pensacola is committed to spin up an ad hoc committee in response to regional natural disaster and in the event that we are part of the affected. The committee, lead by the Member-at-Large, coordinates with AJLI and sister Leagues to collect and disseminate information about donations and recovery. An Amazon Wishlist can be created to easily order and ship directly to the impacted Leagues with *asked for* donations of items or gift cards. The committee also writes and reviews our crisis management and emergency response plans and our policies.