By Tom Purcell
"It makes me feel guilty for complaining about any little problems that I am facing."
"Ah, yes, I'm certain you are talking about the massive impact of Hurricane Harvey and the tremendous suffering it is causing for untold numbers of Americans."
"That's right. At least dozens of people have died from that awful storm, a number that is sure to grow. A family of six met its end when its van got washed away by a wall of water. A shivering toddler clung to his dead mother, who drowned trying to protect her children. I can't begin to imagine the pain and suffering that people affected by the storm are enduring."
"As awful as Harvey has been, many people have shown incredible selflessness and heroism. When things are at their worst, and Harvey has certainly been that, many people are at their best."
"There is no question about that. I get goose bumps when I think of the first responders risking their lives to rescue thousands. The police, the Coast Guard, the search-and-rescue teams have been nothing short of amazing. One policeman drowned while working to save others."
"Other individuals also displayed tremendous heroism. Did you see the story about people at an apartment complex who formed a human chain to rescue an expectant mother? The woman went into labor in the thick of the storm and they protected her until emergency responders could arrive."
"But then again, some of the worst people among us are at their worst during tragedy. Some retailers jacked up the cost of bottled water, for instance, to take advantage of the situation. One was charging nearly $100 for a package of bottled water!"
"It is tragic that anyone would look to increase their profits this way."
"What's worse is that fake charities form in such situations to steal money that good-hearted citizens think they are donating to Harvey's victims. These dirty rotten crooks use email and social media to solicit funds."
"That is regrettably true, too. According to CNN Money, more than 4,600 websites advertising relief efforts popped up after Hurricane Katrina struck in 2005. Law enforcement suspected most were frauds. Before you give, carefully research charity organizations."
"Who can we trust anymore?"
"Well, Fortune assembled a list of legitimate charities that will help Harvey's victims. The Red Cross is always a good place to start. You can donate money online, by calling 1-800-RED-CROSS or, reports Fortune, you can text 'HARVEY' to 90999 to make a $10 donation. You can also donate blood at Red Cross blood drives."
"What about the Salvation Army?"
"That, too, is a legitimate organization. The Salvation Army is requesting donations of $25 or above, but any amount is welcome."
"What about Houston-area charities?"
"Fortune reports that the City of Houston Relief Fund is also a good one. It was established by Houston's mayor, Sylvester Turner. It accepts online credit-card donations, checks and wired money, and all of the donated funds are tax-deductible."
"I'd love to donate money to a reputable charity that will help the children who are suffering from Harvey."
"Fortune recommends an organization called Save the Children. It provides 'cribs and shelter to displaced children, along with other items to help care for them.' Food is also needed and we are all encouraged to donate it, too."
"How do we donate food?"
"An organization called Feeding Texas is leading the food-donation effort. Fortune reports that it is 'looking for ready-to-eat staples like pop-top meat/fish, powdered milk, cereal, canned fruit, fruit cups, peanut butter and jelly as well as cleaning supplies.'"
"Well, the least we can do is donate money and food to help out our fellow citizens. That's what I'm going to do right now."
©2017 Tom Purcell. Tom Purcell, author of "Misadventures of a 1970's Childhood" and "Wicked Is the Whiskey," a Sean McClanahan mystery novel, both available at Amazon.com, is a Pittsburgh Tribune-Review humor columnist and is nationally syndicated exclusively by Cagle Cartoons Inc. For info on using this column in your publication or website, contact [email protected] or call (805) 969-2829. Send comments to Tom at [email protected]