Help in the Pacific

Instead of buying a movie ticket this week, Poptional Reading suggests you give your dollars to one of these causes to support the earthquake and tsunami relief efforts in Japan

As much as I’d like to go on jawing about movies, music, and television, I figured this space could be put to better use highlighting some quick resources to help out the victims of the recent earthquake and tsunami in the Pacific. Last weekend’s box office take for Battle: Los Angeles may prove that disasters are big business in pop culture, but when they happen in real life it’s another matter entirely. Instead of buying a movie ticket this week, I suggest you give your dollars to one of these organizations:

The American Red Cross makes it extremely easy to donate funds to their response efforts. If you’re too addled to head to their Web site or make a donation over the phone (1-800-RED-CROSS), you can text REDCROSS to 90999 to donate $10. The donations work, too: In the first 24 hours after the disaster, the Red Cross dispatched 62 response teams of about 400 doctors, nurses, and support staff.

a japan self defence force member carries an old man in natori

A member of the Japan Self-Defence Forces carries a man in Natori city, in Miyagi prefecture

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While everyone may know about the Red Cross, fewer people have head about Shelterbox, a UK-based organization that helps house displaced people after disasters. Shelterbox packs lightweight, waterproof emergency boxes that contain a tent (which houses ten people), thermal blankets, water purification systems, basic tools, and coloring and activity books for children, among other items necessary for survival. Every donation of $950 translates into another box for a family in need.

Doctors without Borders is also seeking donations. A report filed on the Web site notes that, although injured people had been evacuated by helicopter from the affected areas, many elderly people were still there and need the medical teams to reach them. You can donate online, over the phone (1-888-392-0392), or even by regular postal mail.

You can also donate money through the sites you visit regularly! iTunes has a page where you can buy donations, and some Facebook games (FarmVille and such) allow virtual purchases to translate into real-life donations.

Did I miss a worthy cause or organization? Let me know in the comments.

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