This was an article about "giving" in the 2/22/10 issue of Time Magazine, and is primarily directed toward Haiti. There was great outpouring of support, and always discussion and push to "give", but is it the right thing?
One's duty in the face of disaster is not just to be kind but to be sensible. Chances are that if the 82nd Airborne can't get food to the tent city fast enough, your food bank can't either. Then there is the help that is no help at all. After the 2004 tsunami, aid poured in from all over the world. But it included tons of outdated or unneeded medicines that Indonesian officials had to throw out. People sent Viagra and Santa suits, high-heeled shoes and evening gowns. A year later, after an earthquake in Pakistan, so much unusable clothing arrived that people burned it to stay warm. It may make us feel good to put together children's care packages with cards and teddy bears--but whose needs are we trying to meet?
We can give globally and help locally. Either way, the same principle holds in helping as in healing: First, do no harm.
So while it may feel good to donate food to the local food bank for a disaster somewhere in the world, and providing clothing and blankets may seem like the altruistic thing to do, the real question is, who are you doing it for? If you really want to help, leave it to the experts, not your local church or food bank. Let the locals help here in our country, and donate dollars to let the experienced organizations do their things at ground zero.
Read more: http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article