People in the Florida Panhandle desperately need help — in the form of cash, food and cleaning supplies — after Hurricane Michael smashed ashore as a catastrophic Category 4 hurricane.
Here's how you can help from South Florida, and avoid the scams that inevitably arise after natural disasters.
One word of advice: Please DO NOT donate old clothing now. And make sure donated food is not past its expiration date.
The Florida Disaster Fund has been activated to help victims of Hurricane Michael. You can donate and get more information at volunteerflorida.com.
The Red Cross is collecting money to help hurricane victims. To donate, visit www.redcross.org.
Feeding South Florida is collecting donations of non-perishable food, specifically pop-top canned goods, instant soup, meal mixes and cereal, as well as cleaning supplies, hygiene products and diapers. You can drop them at the main warehouse, 2501 SW 32nd Terrace, 2:30 -4:30 p.m., Mon-Fri.
The group is also holding a Hurricane Help-A-Thon at the warehouse Tuesday from 6 to 8 p.m. to help sort the donated items before they head north. For more information, check volunteer.feedingsouthflorida.org.
Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of Miami is collecting money to help hurricane victims. For more information go to ccadm.org
In the Keys, Monroe County Fire-Rescue is collecting Monday-Thursday non-perishable food items, pet food, water, bleach, sugar, toiletries, hand/power tools, gas cans, extension cords, generators and batteries. The trucks will travel to Bay County on Friday.
Drop off locations are: Big Pine fire station, 390 Key Deer Blvd; Monroe County Fire Rescue headquarters, 490 E. 63rd St. Ocean in Marathon, and Tavernier Fire Station, 151 Marine Ave.
Attorney General Pam Bondi is warning against scammers who try to take advantage of people's generosity after storms. She suggests giving to established charities, being on the lookout against high-pressure solicitation and groups using names that sound similar to established charities.
If you have doubts, you can call the state Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services at 1-800-HELP-FLA (800-435-7352).