How to donate to the American Red Cross

Posted at 5:44 PM, Aug 27, 2017
and last updated 2017-08-27 18:44:48-04

There are three ways to donate now to the American Red Cross.

  1. One, you can visit Once you click on the donate now button, you will be directed to a donation page. Once there, you can select Hurricane Harvey and then the amount you wish to donate
  2. You can also text HARVEY to 90999 to make a $10 donation. Charges will appear on your wireless bill or be deducted from your prepaid balance. All purchases must be authorized by account holder. Must be 18 years of age or have parental permission to participate. Message and Data Rates May Apply. Text STOP to 90999 to STOP. Text HELP to 90999 for HELP. Full Terms and Privacy Policy:
  3. You can also call 1-800- RED CROSS (1-800-733-2767) to donate.


Q.    How is the Red Cross helping people affected by Hurricane Harvey?

A.   Hurricane Harvey, the first Category 4 hurricane to make landfall in the United States since Hurricane Charley in 2004, is bringing life-threatening and devastating damage to the Gulf Coast and areas far inland. The American Red Cross has mobilized a massive relief effort to provide shelter, food and comfort. And we will continue to be there in the weeks and months ahead, helping residents recover from this massive storm.

More than 1,400 people took refuge from the deadly storm Friday night in 24 Red Cross and community shelters. Evacuation orders remain in effect in Texas and Louisiana. The storm is expected to produce life-threatening rain through the middle of next week and more than 40 additional shelters are on standby if needed.

The Red Cross is working in close collaboration with government officials and community partners in both Texas and Louisiana to coordinate potential response efforts.

Shelters are also on standby in Arkansas for people who may evacuate into the state, and the Red Cross is working with officials there to coordinate any response that may be needed.

Hundreds of Red Cross disaster workers from all over the country are helping people impacted by the hurricane and thousands more will be asked to deploy in the weeks to come as people begin to recover from the storm.

The Red Cross has tractor-trailer loads of relief supplies in the region – enough to support more than 20,000 people for weeks. The supplies include cots, blankets, ready-to-eat meals, comfort kits and cleaning supplies.

The Red Cross is also mobilizing its disaster partners to support feeding, child care, disaster assessment and other disaster services.

We have 28 emergency response vehicles responding now, and 40 more from around the country are on their way to the region.

In addition, the Red Cross has pre-positioned blood products in Houston ahead of the storm to help ensure we can maintain an adequate blood supply over the weekend. We are also staging additional blood inventory in Dallas as well in case of canceled flights or severe flooding.

Q.  How do I find a Red Cross shelter and other help?

A.  If you need the location of a shelter or other help, you should go to and check the shelter map. People can also find a shelter by downloading the free Red Cross Emergency App. The Emergency App also puts real-time information about the storm and hurricane safety tips at your fingertips. The app is available in app stores by searching for the American Red Cross or going to

Q.    What help is available at the shelters?

A.  The shelters are providing for the immediate needs of those affected, including a safe place to stay and food to eat. Anyone who plans to stay in a Red Cross shelter should bring prescription medications, extra clothing, pillows, blankets, hygiene supplies, other comfort items and important documents. Don’t forget to bring any special items for children, such as diapers, formula and toys, or for family members who have unique needs.

Q.  Why is there no Red Cross shelter closer to my location?

A.  The Red Cross will only shelter in the safest locations possible. This means we don’t typically open shelters in flood zones or evacuation areas. The safety of our shelter residents and volunteers is our first priority. We won’t compromise people’s safety or that of our volunteers.

Q: Why doesn’t the Red Cross have cots and blankets for everyone?

A: Typically, evacuation shelters typically are only meant to house people for 12-24 hours, until the storm moves through. A local Red Cross chapter may not have enough supplies to provide a cot and blanket for each person and it may not be practical to move in supplies for such short-term shelters. If there is enough lead-time or if it becomes evident that shelters will stay open after landfall, the Red Cross can move supplies in from other areas.

Q. What kind of services does the Red Cross provide after a disaster?

A.  The Red Cross responds to the scene of emergencies to help provide for the urgent needs of disaster victims. Right after a disaster, we focus on providing safe shelter and feeding people. After the storm passes, we will be offering emotional support and health services, and distributing emergency relief supplies such as comfort kits and cleaning supplies. But our work doesn’t end there; the Red Cross also plays a critical role in helping families and communities get back on their feet.


Q. How can the public help?

A. The Red Cross depends on financial donations to be able to provide disaster relief immediately. Help people affected by Hurricane Harvey by visiting, calling 1- 800-RED CROSS or texting the word HARVEY to 90999 to make a $10 donation. Donations enable the Red Cross to prepare for, respond to and help people recover from this disaster.

Q.  Will my donation stay in areas affected by Hurricane Harvey?

A.  The Red Cross honors donor intent. Donors can designate their donation to Hurricane Harvey relief efforts by choosing that option when donating on or on 1-800-RED CROSS. The best way to ensure your donation will go to a specific disaster is to write the specific disaster name in the memo line of a check. We also recommend completing and mailing the donation form on with your check.

Q.  What do contributions to the Hurricane Harvey disaster effort pay for?

A.  Financial donations for Red Cross Hurricane Harvey will help people affected by this devastating storm. Donations are used to prepare for, respond to and help people recover from this disaster. This includes providing food, shelter, relief supplies, emotional support, recovery planning and other assistance as well as supporting the vehicles, warehouses, technology and people that make that help possible.

Q.  How much of my donation goes to helping disaster victims and how much goes to overhead?

A.  An average of 91 cents of every dollar the Red Cross spends is invested in humanitarian services and programs, including disaster relief and recovery. All elements of our disaster program—from purchasing supplies to training volunteers to maintaining staff—play a role in directly helping disaster victims. We only use a small amount of every dollar for fundraising as well as management and general expenses that cross all program lines but are indispensable to conduct our activities.

Q.  Do you need blood for Texas?

A.  The need for blood is constant and we currently have an urgent need for blood donations across the country due to a summer decline in blood donors and blood drive sponsors. We will closely monitor our blood supplies in Texas and other areas impacted by the hurricane. We always encourage blood donations and the Red Cross stands ready to provide blood products as needed.

Q.  How can I volunteer?

A.  People can make a difference in someone’s life by becoming a Red Cross volunteer. To join us, visit today to learn more about volunteer opportunities and how to submit a volunteer application.

Q.  I want to help. Can I just go to the region and volunteer my time?

A.  Thank you for wanting to help the people affected by Hurricane Harvey. The Red Cross recommends connecting with volunteer groups to learn about opportunities, and when volunteers are needed, before you to travel to the region independently.

If you would like to volunteer with the Red Cross, you can visit to learn more about the many volunteer opportunities and how to submit a volunteer application. This would allow you to not only help on large disasters like Hurricane Harvey, but also when smaller disasters like home fires happen in your community.

The best and most immediate way you can help is to make a financial donation to support the Red Cross Hurricane Harvey relief effort. Help people affected by Hurricane Harvey by visiting, calling 1- 800-RED CROSS or texting the word HARVEY to 90999 to make a $10 donation. Donations enable the Red Cross to prepare for, respond to and help people recover from this disaster.

Q.  Why does the Red Cross require me to register and fill out paperwork in order to volunteer?

A.  The safety of the people we serve and the volunteers who help them is of utmost importance to the Red Cross. We have procedures in place to track who is volunteering for the Red Cross to help keep people safe. This includes running a background check on all volunteers who will work directly with the people who turn to us for help or have access to funds. Volunteers also sign an agreement to abide by our code of ethics and conduct.

Q.  Does the Red Cross accept donations of goods?

A.  The Red Cross only accepts large, bulk donations of new items if they are suitable to the needs of a specific disaster. We do not accept small quantities or collections of new or used products, like household goods, clothing or food. The Red Cross works closely with local community groups and organizations that do accept in-kind donations.

Q.  Why won’t the Red Cross accept clothing donations or food or anything the public can give?

A.  We know Americans are generous and want to do everything they can to help after a disaster. Unfortunately, collecting and sending food, clothing and other household items often does more harm than good. Instead, the best way to support disaster victims is with a financial donation.

It takes time and money to store, sort, clean and distribute donated items, which diverts limited time and resources away from helping those most affected. In contrast, financial donations can be accessed quickly to support those affected, and be put to use right away. With a financial donation, individuals can buy what they need and want.

Storing donated items can also result in thousands of dollars in warehousing, cleaning, transportation and handling fees – whereas financial donations allow us to be flexible to give those directly impacted by Harvey what they need most.

Our first priority is the safety and well-being of those affected by disasters. Unfortunately, some well-intentioned donations of clothing or other items may be inadvertently soiled or dirty, which can cause illness. Financial donations don’t pose any health risks and can be used right away to replace items like medications and reading glasses.

Before collecting or dropping off donations of food, clothing or household items, please call first to see if these items are needed. On some occasions, the Red Cross will accept donations, except for homemade food, at our shelters.

Q. Why won’t the Red Cross accept food at shelters?

A. For the safety of all shelter residents, home cooked food is not allowed. The Red Cross cannot ensure the safety of food prepared in a non-commercial setting. Donations of unexpired, non-perishable food in original containers will be made immediately available to our shelter residents, but a large influx may not be helpful at the shelter as storage space is limited. Local food pantries are better equipped to handle food distribution after residents have been allowed to return home.



During an emergency, the American Red Cross opens shelters to be a safe place for anyone in the community to access, regardless of citizenship status. The Red Cross doesn’t see cultural or ethnic backgrounds; just a person who needs help. When an emergency happens, the Red Cross delivers help to whoever needs it, and, as part of

its humanitarian mission, Red Cross will feed, shelter and provide other forms of support without regard to race, religion or citizenship status. The Red Cross is a charity, not a government agency, and people who have disaster-caused needs do not need to be American citizens to access Red Cross services.

Red Cross Statement on Impartiality here.

Q. Does the Red Cross require people to show identification in order to enter a shelter?

A. No. The Red Cross does not require people to show any kind of identification in order to enter a shelter. We do ask our shelter residents to provide their names and pre-disaster addresses at registration. The Red Cross only uses that information to track the movement of our residents while they are in the shelter.

Q. Does the Red Cross require people to show government-issued identification in order to obtain other kinds of help?

A. Red Cross caseworkers do ask people to show identification as part of the casework

process. This helps the Red Cross verify the person’s pre-disaster address. This request is not meant to require proof of citizenship. Rather, it simply helps disaster assessment teams locate the person’s home so the Red Cross can verify the damage. If a person does not have government-issued identification, Red Cross caseworkers may ask for some other document, such as a copy of a utility bill, to help verify the pre-disaster address.

Q. Is the Red Cross a federal agency?

A. No. While the Red Cross is chartered by Congress to provide disaster relief and other services, we are not a federal agency. We often work closely with federal agencies during disasters, leading to confusion about our status. But, it is important to note that we do not have the same legal standing as federal agencies.

Q. Will the Red Cross report undocumented persons to FEMA, ICE, other federal

agencies or law enforcement?

Because we don’t ask for citizenship information, we generally don’t know if the people who use our services, particularly shelter residents, are U.S. citizens. If a shelter resident chooses to reveal that information or a shelter worker somehow acquires that information, Red Cross staff will protect the person’s confidentiality. Moreover, we have made our federal partners aware of Red Cross policies regarding the confidentiality of the people we serve. Our federal partners know that the Red Cross humanitarian mission means that we will provide services to anyone in need, regardless of citizenship status, and our government partners have a track record of being respectful of our mission.

Q. In some shelters, FEMA workers will be present to register people for federal benefits. Won’t that discourage undocumented persons from entering shelters?

A. The purpose of the FEMA presence in some shelters is to assist qualified individuals with registering for federal benefits. FEMA workers are not there to participate in immigration enforcement. FEMA is aware of our humanitarian mission and know that the Red Cross often shelters undocumented individuals or families. Out of respect for our humanitarian mission, FEMA has agreed not to proactively approach people in shelters, but to allow shelter residents to seek out the FEMA representative if they would like help.

Q. What happens if federal, state or local authorities want to enter a shelter and search for undocumented persons? Will the Red Cross admit them to the shelter?

A. If federal, state or local authorities make a request to enter a shelter for the purpose of looking for undocumented shelter residents, the Red Cross will not grant them permission to enter unless presented with a subpoena or court order. The Red Cross may disclose information about shelter residents at the behest of law enforcement if the disclosure is necessary to avert a threat or protect the health or safety of shelter occupants, another person or the community.

Q. What happens if the owner of a shelter facility refuses to allow the Red Cross to shelter undocumented persons in that facility?

A. We would not enter into a shelter agreement that restricts the entry of shelter residents based on race, religion or citizenship status. If we have opened a shelter under a standing agreement and the building owner makes a request to restrict entry into the shelter, that action would violate the Red Cross shelter agreement and our humanitarian principles. We would not support that shelter with material or financial resources and we would not allow Red Cross signage to be used.

Q. Does the Red Cross have translators at its shelters or service centers?

A. We make every effort to place bilingual or multilingual disaster workers in places where we might have a high population of non-English speakers. If there is a language barrier, the Red Cross will often try to recruit a shelter resident to help in the translation process or work with partner organizations in the community to find translation resources.


Q.  Why can’t I get through on the phone? I need help.

A.  We are sorry to hear that you are unable to get through to us. Like every other agency, Red Cross phone lines may be overwhelmed after the hurricane. If you are having difficulty getting through on 1-800-RED CROSS, please try this direct dial number for those seeking disaster assistance due to Hurricane Harvey – 800-768-8048.

Q. Can anyone go to the Red Cross for help during a disaster?

A. Yes. As one of the nation’s oldest and largest humanitarian organizations, we are committed to diversity and inclusion in all that we do, every day. The American Red Cross is guided by the fundamental principles, including impartiality and neutrality. To this end, the Red Cross makes no discrimination as to nationality, race, sexual orientation, religious beliefs, class or political opinions. In addition, in order to continue to enjoy the confidence of all, the Red Cross does not take sides in controversies of a political, racial, religious or ideological nature.

Q.  Why don’t I see the Red Cross responding in my community?

A.  It’s likely that the Red Cross is responding in your community, but they may be working behind the scenes. Depending on which agencies are responsible for disaster response, the Red Cross could be sharing duties with other groups or supporting the response efforts with people, supplies, expertise or funding. For example, the Red Cross could be providing cots and blankets to a shelter run by another group, or it could have provided training so a church or civic group could run a shelter on its own.

Q. Can people pray in your shelters?

A.  Faith is an important part of helping people cope during a disaster, and people in our shelters are always welcome to pray, read their bibles and gather among themselves–we simply ask that they are respectful of others. In some shelters, there may be hundreds of people of different values and faiths sharing a large space, and we want to respect the privacy of everyone.

If a shelter resident would like to speak with a spiritual advisor, the Red Cross can help to facilitate that connection. When needed, we can also provide private spaces for residents to pray and engage in religious activities with their preferred spiritual advisors. 

The Red Cross follows the guidelines set forth by the National Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster to provide appropriate and respectful disaster spiritual care. Through our Disaster Spiritual Care program, trained Red Cross workers bolster hope and resilience for the survivors and their families by helping people draw upon their own spiritual resources – values and faith – in the midst of their pain, regardless of their faith tradition.  

Q.  What is the Red Cross doing to meet the needs of children, the elderly and people with disabilities?

A.  The Red Cross provides services to people with a wide range of needs during a disaster, and our shelter workers try to ensure that everyone who comes to the Red Cross gets the best possible help.

Red Cross health services and mental health workers are present in shelters to tend to the good health and well-being of all residents. These workers assess health needs, provide or assist with care as needed, and replace medications, supplies and equipment that may have been lost or destroyed during the disaster. Health services workers encourage residents to wash their hands, cover their coughs and dispose of tissues properly to prevent infection. They also are available to assist people with care for common ailments and injuries. Red Cross mental health workers help to promote resiliency and good coping skills.

In addition, the Red Cross and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services have developed a shelter resident intake form that helps workers have confidential conversations with individuals and families about additional support, supplies or information they may need during a stay in our shelter. The form asks questions about the immediate needs of the person and how much assistance a person needs. Red Cross workers then interview each person or family in the shelter to learn what kind of care might be needed in the coming days and weeks.

Q.  Does the Red Cross admit people with disabilities into shelters?

A.  Absolutely. In fact, we will do everything possible to ensure that individuals with disabilities or people with access and functional needs feel comfortable in our shelters. The Red Cross works with community partners, including government and non-governmental agencies, to help people after disasters.

Q.  What kinds of services can the Red Cross offer to people with disabilities in shelters?

A.  The Red Cross strives to make all Red Cross shelter services available to everyone who needs them, whether or not they have a disability. When a person with a disability or access and functional needs comes to a Red Cross shelter, a worker will have a confidential conversation with them about their specific needs and how we can address them.

The Red Cross routinely provides support such as helping a person move from a wheelchair to a cot, cutting food, or navigating a cafeteria-style food service line. In many shelters, we can provide items such as shower stools, commode chairs and larger-sized cots that make shelters safer and more comfortable for people. The Red Cross works with local community partners to identify services that might be needed in shelters and tap into those resources when necessary. And because stress can affect anyone, the Red Cross also has disaster mental health workers available to help people cope.

Q. How is the Red Cross working to help pet owners?

A. In most communities, the Red Cross works with animal rescue groups to ensure that shelter residents and others in the community have a place to take pets. We encourage all of our chapters to assemble referral lists of pet-friendly hotels, kennels, veterinarians, and animal welfare agencies that can accept pets during a disaster. In addition, we can support pet shelters by providing food, cots, blankets and first aid to the people who staff pet shelters.

The Red Cross is also a proud member of the National Animal Rescue and Sheltering Coalition (NARSC) which helps develop collaborative solutions to animal disaster response activities in coordination with emergency management officials. As a member of NARSC, the Red Cross works alongside groups such as the American Humane Association and the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) to coordinate disaster relief.

Q. Will the Red Cross shelter family pets during a disaster?

A. The Red Cross will work with other agencies in the community to make sure shelter residents have resources for their pets. Often, that means animals must be housed in a separate area from their owners. Red Cross shelters must accommodate a wide range of people. Along with infants, children and the elderly, we may also have people with pet allergies, asthma, or other health issues, and people with a fear of animals. For the well-being of all people who turn to the Red Cross for help after a disaster, there often needs to be physical space between animals and people.

Service animals for people with disabilities are an exception. Service animals are not considered pets and they may stay with their owner in Red Cross shelters. Shelter workers will do all they can to accommodate service animals comfortably.

Q.  Can the Red Cross respond to multiple large disasters at the same time?

A.  Each year the Red Cross responds to nearly 64,000 disasters across the U.S., so it’s not unusual for us to be responding to simultaneous events. The Red Cross works year-round to be ready to respond effectively to disasters of any size. That’s why it’s so critical for us to have the resources and support to maintain a network of tens of thousands of trained disaster workers and a nationwide warehousing network stocked with relief supplies.

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