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Hurricane Sandy ripped through the East Coast, unveiling all her fury on the city that we all love so dearly, and while it is hard to believe it, New York City, New Jersey and neighboring areas are seriously in need! 

After posting a blog about the extensive damage done here in Staten Island following the hurricane, I received messages from a large number of people with extremely warm hearts who wanted to know just what they should donate to help the victims of Hurricane Sandy.

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Before you go pulling out stilettos and skinny jeans from the depths of your closet and bagging them up for SalVal, take a look at the guide below at the 5 tips for effectively donating items for those who lost everything in the hurricane.

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1. Warm items are a must.

Sure, you are having buyer’s remorse from some of the silly shorts and cocktail dresses from the summer, but hurricane victims are currently cold, without dry clothing or without adequate power, so the last thing they are worried about is party clothes. Pull out those sweaters, winter coats, scarves and other warm items that can be used. Victims are also without shoes, so clean, non-stinky shoes would also be a great thing to add to the pile.

2. Clean clothes.

Go by this rule: If it smells, wash it. If you wouldn’t wear a sweater with 10-month-old pizza stains on it, why should victims? These are people who also once had closets full of clothing they would donate, so please be considerate and speed up the process of getting the clothing to those in need by donating clean, wearable items.

3. Go through all your closets, pantries included. 

These are people who have lost a lot, so they are looking for a little more than the clothes. Victims and shelters are also in need of the following items: food (perishables and non-perishables), cleaning supplies, batteries/flashlights and lanterns, pet food, demolition tools (pry bars, sledge hammers, garbage bags) generators, battery-operated lights and flashlights and a plethora of other things. What would you use to clean up a natural disaster? They need it. 

4. The kiddies need love too.  

A number of these families that have lost their homes also have kids, kids who have to return to school on Monday without adequate clothing and supplies. Clean out the items your younger ones aren’t wearing or have grown out of (adhering to the seasonally appropriate rules noted above) and couple them up with basic school supplies.

5. Don’t forget the small things.

Babies need diapers and wipes, men need razors and other items to keep clean as well and well… you know what ladies need. Pets are also out of homes and need pet food. Think about all the basic things you use on a daily basis that can help others. 

If you can’t donate any items, we all have two things we can donate: time and awareness. Count your blessings considering that you have electricity to read this, and get out there and get to giving!

For up to the minute updates on where you can donate in each neighborhood, check out Recovers.Org, find out what each community needs and give back.