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How to give to tornado victims

By Judy Martel · Bankrate.com
Tuesday, May 21, 2013
Posted: 12 pm ET

Even as residents of the Midwest gear up for a few more days of destructive and unpredictable weather, Americans have already responded to the victims of yesterday's deadly tornado in Oklahoma with an outpouring of donations.

In any crisis or disaster, technology speeds the delivery of needed cash, but donors should always be careful to make sure they are giving to legitimate charitable organizations. Eileen Heisman, president and CEO of the National Philanthropic Trust, advises donors to avoid the temptation to immediately go online and give, unless they know and trust the organization.

There are several established organizations already set up to accept donations for Oklahoma tornado relief, with options for giving online, by phone or by regular mail. Heisman also reminds donors that while immediate relief is wonderful, help will be needed for months to come. With experts already predicting up to $2 billion in property damage in Oklahoma, rebuilding efforts will go on for some time.

If you choose to give to a smaller or a local organization, take the time to research its legitimacy through websites such as Charity Navigator and GuideStar.

Here is a list of established organizations that are already "on the ground" providing relief in Oklahoma and other storm-damaged states.

The American Red Cross is providing hot meals and shelter for storm victims. Phone: (800) RED CROSS or (800) 733-2767.

The Salvation Army is sending mobile feeding units for victims in Oklahoma and other affected states. Phone: (800) SAL-ARMY or (800) 725-2769.

Operation USA gives to those affected by crisis and disaster in the U.S. and around the world. Phone: (800) 678-7255.

Feeding America is working through a national network of food banks to help the hungry. Phone: (800) 910-5524.

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