How to help families impacted by Middle Tennessee tornadoes

Tennessee Tornadoes

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) – As first responders work to understand the scope of the damage in Middle Tennessee caused by deadly tornadoes, help from all over the state is heading that way.

RELATED: At least 25 killed after tornadoes strike Middle Tennessee

American Red Cross of Tennessee:

The Red Cross is deploying volunteers to help in recovery efforts. Officials say their first priority is providing shelter and support to impacted families. The Red Cross is not accepting donated goods.

  • If you would like to donate blood, you can find blood drives near you by clicking here.
  • To sign up and become a trained volunteer, fill out an application here.
  • If you would like to make a monetary donation helping with tornado recovery efforts, you can give to the Red Cross by clicking here.

“Our main priority is sheltering. I know that there’s a lot going on but making sure people are safe and getting anyone affected back to recovery mode,” said Sharon Hudson, Executive Director for American Red Cross of East Tennessee.

More than 12 trained Red Cross volunteers are deploying to Davidson County, Mount Juliet, Lebanon and Nashville.

Knoxville Pays It Forward:

Knoxville Pays It Forward is collecting donations and taking a truck of supplies to Middle Tennessee over the next 48-hours. Organizers ask you to not donate clothing. You can donate the following items:

  • Cases of water
  • Hygiene products
  • Feminine hygiene products
  • Diapers and wipes
  • Adult diapers and bed pads
  • Ensure meal replacement shakes
  • Baby formula
  • Cleaning supplies and laundry detergent
  • New underwear
  • Garbage bags
  • Flashlights and batteries
  • Pillows and blankets
  • Plastic totes
  • Plastic tarps
  • Pet food and pet supplies

Tornado supplies can be dropped off at Midsouth Truck and Equipment located at 5400 Rutledge Pike in Knoxville, Admiral Title, Inc. located at 8517 Kingston Pike in Knoxville or Nurse Debbie’s Health and Wellness located at 2319 W Emory Road in Powell.

“We are Knoxville, Tennessee volunteers and they don’t call us volunteers for nothing. So, it’s up to us to step up as a community and help our local Tennesseans,” said Kim Cantrell, Executive Director of KPIF.

If you would like to make a financial donation to help with Knoxville Pays It Forward tornado relief, you can click here.

MEDIC Regional Blood Center:

In Knoxville, officials with MEDIC Regional Blood Center say they have sent a limited supply of products to middle Tennessee and they’re assisting those blood centers.

Right now there is a critical need for O Positive and O Negative blood types.

If you would like to help, you can donate blood and keep the inventory of supplies high just in case more is needed in middle Tennessee. You can give at any MEDIC location in downtown Knoxville, Farragut, Athens and Crossville or at a mobile blood drive.

Community Foundation of Middle Tennessee:

The Community Foundation of Middle Tennessee has activated the Middle Tennessee Emergency Response Fund supporting impacted communities and nonprofits helping families address their ongoing needs.

  • If you would like to make a monetary donation, you can give by clicking here.
Sumant Joshi helps to clean up rubble at the East End United Methodist Church after it was heavily damaged by storms Tuesday, March 3, 2020, in Nashville, Tenn. Joshi is a resident in the area and volunteered to help clean up. Tornadoes ripped across Tennessee early Tuesday, shredding buildings and killing multiple people. (AP Photo/Mark Humphrey)

Community Resource Center:

For those wanting to donate items, please visit the Community Resource Center at 218 Omohundro Place Nashville, TN 37210 or call them at 615-291-6688. No clothing will be accepted.

  • If you would like to make a monetary donation, you can give by clicking here.

Hands on Nashville:

Hands On Nashville is working closely with the City of Nashville and the Office of Emergency Management to ensure all of the available resources are in place to help our community.

  • To sign up and volunteer in cleanup projects, fill out an application here.
Debris covers a street after overnight storms Tuesday, March 3, 2020, in Nashville, Tenn. Tornadoes ripped across Tennessee early Tuesday, shredding buildings and killing multiple people. (AP Photo/Mark Humphrey)

Charity checklist

Sadly after a natural disaster, scammers can create ways to take advantage of a donor’s vulnerability and kindness. The Better Business Bureau suggests you research an organization before donating and be wary of crowdsource fundraising campaigns on GoFundMe or Facebook.

Take the following precautions to make sure your donation benefits the people and organizations you want to help.

  • Ask for detailed information about the charity, including name, address, and telephone number.
  • Get the exact name of the organization and do some research. Searching the name of the organization online — especially with the word “complaint(s)” or “scam”— is one way to learn about its reputation.
  • Call the charity. Find out if the organization is aware of the solicitation and has authorized the use of its name. The organization’s development staff should be able to help you.
  • Find out if the charity or fundraiser must be registered in your state by contacting the National Association of State Charity Officials.
  • Check if the charity is trustworthy by contacting the Better Business Bureau’s (BBB) Wise Giving Alliance, Charity Navigator, Charity Watch, or GuideStar.
  • Ask if the caller is a paid fundraiser. If so, ask:
    • The name of the charity they represent
    • The percentage of your donation that will go to the charity
    • How much will go to the actual cause to which you’re donating
    • How much will go to the fundraiser
  • Keep a record of your donations.
  • Make an annual donation plan. That way, you can decide which causes to support and which reputable charities should receive your donations.
  • Visit this Internal Revenue Service (IRS) webpage to find out which organizations are eligible to receive tax deductible contributions.
  • Know the difference between “tax exempt” and “tax deductible.” Tax exempt means the organization doesn’t have to pay taxes. Tax deductible means you can deduct your contribution on your federal income tax return.
  • Never send cash donations. For security and tax purposes, it’s best to pay by check — made payable to the charity — or by credit card.
  • Never wire money to someone claiming to be a charity. Scammers often request donations to be wired because wiring money is like sending cash: once you send it, you can’t get it back.
  • Do not provide your credit or check card number, bank account number or any personal information until you’ve thoroughly researched the charity.
  • Be wary of charities that spring up too suddenly in response to current events and natural disasters. Even if they are legitimate, they probably don’t have the infrastructure to get the donations to the affected area or people.
  • If a donation request comes from a group claiming to help your local community (for example, local police or firefighters), ask the local agency if they have heard of the group and are getting financial support.
  • What about texting? If you text to donate, the charge will show up on your mobile phone bill. If you’ve asked your mobile phone provider to block premium text messages — texts that cost extra — then you won’t be able to donate this way.

(We are continuing to update ways to help.)

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