Helping Haiti with more than money

By Gerri Willis, personal finance editor


NEW YORK (CNN) -- Americans have donated over $275 million dollars to the Haiti relief efforts but money isn't the only thing you can give. Here are some ideas on how to help out if you don't have readily available cash.

1. Plan to go overseas

home_rich_cover.03.jpg
For more information on managing your largest investment, check out Gerri Willis' 'Home Rich,' now in bookstores.
CDs & Money Market
MMA 0.37%
$10K MMA 0.33%
6 month CD 0.35%
1 yr CD 0.67%
5 yr CD 1.38%

Find personalized rates:
 

Rates provided by Bankrate.com.

Volunteers without disaster relief experience are generally not sent to disaster zones. That said this may be the time to prepare yourself for service in a future disaster.

Most agencies require at least 10 years of experience -- plus several years of experience working overseas, says Suzanne Brooks at the Center for International Disaster Information.

Time commitment is another factor. Often volunteers have to commit at least three months working on a particular disaster.

And of course, there are economic reasons to keep you home. Once a relief agency accepts you as a volunteer -- that agency is responsible for your food, shelter, health and security. And this can be a huge burden at a time when resources are already strained.

To get started, go to your local Red Cross chapter and get more information on their disaster services training courses. This way you can work your way up to joining relief efforts overseas.

2. Medical assistance

Obviously there is a great medical emergency in Haiti. If you want to offer your services, make sure you're working with an agency that is already working on the ground and has authorization to bring in personnel and medicine.

Right now the International Medical Corps is taking applications for volunteer doctors and nurses. For more information, go to their Web site at IMCworldwide.org and click on the "Work for Us" tab. Keep in mind that down the road, there will be more opportunities to volunteer.

3. Volunteer locally

If you are not a doctor and cannot volunteer abroad you can still help out where you are. Go to your local Red Cross chapter. You may be able to help answer phones, organize and plan community fundraising efforts. The Red Cross also has a database so people can find their Haitian relatives. As a volunteer, you can help reconnect people in war and disaster.

The Red Cross also has other types of disaster services training. These are classes that prepare you to deal with smaller disasters, like a house fire or other domestic disasters such as hurricanes; eventually you can be trained for international disasters.

For more information, go to redcross.org and type in your zip code to get the closest Red Cross chapter near you.

-- CNN's Jen Haley contributed to this article.

Talkback: Are you planning on donating? To top of page

Frontline troops push for solar energy
The U.S. Marines are testing renewable energy technologies like solar to reduce costs and casualties associated with fossil fuels. Play
25 Best Places to find rich singles
Looking for Mr. or Ms. Moneybags? Hunt down the perfect mate in these wealthy cities, which are brimming with unattached professionals. More
Fun festivals: Twins to mustard to pirates!
You'll see double in Twinsburg, Ohio, and Ketchup lovers should beware in Middleton, WI. Here's some of the best and strangest town festivals. Play
Overnight Avg Rate Latest Change Last Week
30 yr fixed4.19%4.26%
15 yr fixed3.23%3.27%
5/1 ARM3.34%3.45%
30 yr refi4.17%4.23%
15 yr refi3.21%3.25%
Rate data provided
by Bankrate.com
View rates in your area
 
Find personalized rates:
Index Last Change % Change
Dow 16,957.41 -25.18 -0.15%
Nasdaq 4,452.75 7.84 0.18%
S&P 500 1,975.13 -3.78 -0.19%
Treasuries 2.46 -0.03 -1.16%
Data as of 3:14pm ET
Company Price Change % Change
Frontier Communicati... 6.81 0.87 14.64%
Windstream Holdings ... 11.60 1.07 10.16%
AT&T Inc 36.60 0.95 2.66%
CenturyLink Inc 40.24 2.53 6.71%
Bank of America Corp... 15.37 -0.13 -0.84%
Data as of 3:00pm ET

Sections

European leaders are trying to hit Russia where it hurts by issuing new, tougher sanctions targeting Vladimir Putin's cronies and key Russian industries. More

New annual report from U.S. government shows the long-term prognosis for Medicare has improved thanks to slower health spending, while the outlook for Social Security remains unchanged. More

Bunch o Balloons allows multiple water balloons to be filled at once. Parents are loving it -- to the tune of $645,000. More

Market indexes are shown in real time, except for the DJIA, which is delayed by two minutes. All times are ET. Disclaimer Morningstar: © 2014 Morningstar, Inc. All Rights Reserved. Disclaimer The Dow Jones IndexesSM are proprietary to and distributed by Dow Jones & Company, Inc. and have been licensed for use. All content of the Dow Jones IndexesSM © 2014 is proprietary to Dow Jones & Company, Inc. Chicago Mercantile Association. The market data is the property of Chicago Mercantile Exchange Inc. and its licensors. All rights reserved. FactSet Research Systems Inc. 2014. All rights reserved. Most stock quote data provided by BATS.