Family travel: Ways to help disaster victims

In the wake of hurricanes, wildfires, earthquakes and flooding, many traveling families are eager to give back. Here are five ideas to consider: 

1. Give locally. If you and your family have especially fond memories of a certain destination, get in touch to see if there is a specific way you might be able to help.  

Visit sooner than later with your luggage filled with nonperishable supplies. Arrive with a contribution raised from a neighborhood lemonade stand or garage sale. Check to see if your employer is matching donations to the disaster recovery efforts for even greater impact.  

Organizations such as the Sandals Foundation, the philanthropic arm of Sandals Resorts, are active in relief efforts throughout the Caribbean and will welcome your support. Contact: www.SandalsFoundation.org; www.Beaches.com  

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2. Habitat for Humanity. Habitat reports that hundreds of thousands of homes were damaged or destroyed by the winds and rain hurled by Irma and Harvey alone. With the majority of disaster response funding going to emergency relief, there will be a great need for resources of every kind as rebuilding gets underway in earnest.  

The Habitat Hammers Back initiative, in partnership with other recovery organizations, hopes to mobilize volunteers from around the country. Contact your local organization or Habitat in the destination of your choice to see how you and your family might contribute. Contact: www.Habitat.org  

3. Carlisle Bay for Barbuda, Antigua. The Carlisle Bay Resort will coordinate volunteer efforts so their guests will have the opportunity to participate in relief efforts to benefit Barbuda, their hard-hit sister island. In partnership with the Antigua & Barbuda Red Cross, volunteers will assist with immediate needs that may include organizing supplies as well as coordinating and distributing donated goods. Monetary donations offered by guests will also go to this direct effort. Guests may register to participate before or upon arrival. Contact: 866-502-2855; www.Carlisle-Bay.com  

4. Tourism Cares. Representing the charitable community of the travel and tourism industry, Tourism Cares has partnered with the Caribbean Hotel and Tourism Association to help provide a coordinated view of current needs on the ground. Working with individual island tourism boards, they will be providing specific opportunities for giving of time and other resources as well as administering the Caribbean Tourism Recovery Fund. Check the website for giving opportunities that match with your interests and abilities. Contact: www.TourismCares.org  

5. Travel soon. In addition to the loss of resort palm trees and tiki bars, many families in these hard hit areas have lost their homes and their livelihood. The sooner you book a trip to South Florida or one of the windblown islands, the sooner their economic recovery will become a reality. “The Cuban people are desperate for tourism to resume, especially from the USA,” explained Peggy Goldman, founder and president of Friendly Planet Travel, one of the first companies to launch people-to-people tours to the country. “Cuba needs the revenue to rebuild after the storm, and they will welcome visitors with arms even more wide open than ever.” Contact: www.FriendlyPlanet.com; www.TogetherforGood.org.  

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(Lynn O’Rourke Hayes (www.LOHayes.com) is an author, family travel expert and enthusiastic explorer. Gather more travel intel on Twitter @lohayes, Facebook, or via FamilyTravel.com

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