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Give - but give wisely in the wake of Hurricane Michael
October 24, 2018

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The Fort Myers Beach community, as it is always does, pulled together this past weekend for a three-day Hurricane Michael Supply Drive.

An estimated $20,000 worth of good and supplies were quickly collected for the Port St. Joe community, thanks Beach businesses and residents, including Pete's Time Out owner John Lallo, who organized the drive, and Cheney Brothers Inc., who donated a trailer, gas and a driver to deliver the goods to the Panhandle.

We thank everyone involved as we are firm believers in neighbor helping neighbor.

One of life's hardest lessons to accept, though, is that where most of look to give what we can, others look to see what they can take.

This is seldom more true than in the wake of a natural disaster.

According to numerous news accounts, looters are among those picking up the pieces in the wake of Hurricane Michael and the pieces they are scavenging are the scant leavings of the Category 4 storm that ravaged Mexico Beach in the Panhandle before making its way through parts of Georgia, the Carolinas and Virginia.

Looters are the overt face of humanity without heart.

The scammers are the more subtle thieves and law enforcement agencies and consumer advocacy groups are issuing their usual warnings: If you plan to give, give with care.

That means donating selectively though local groups and individuals known to step up in times of need or to known charities and organizations only.

The web is rift with fake groups hoping to siphon well-intentioned contributions for those sorely in need.

Last week we published online a short list of local organizations that are collecting donations, including cash donations, which allow for the greatest flexibility in meeting needs.

Among them are two solid standards, the Southern Gulf Chapter of the American Red Cross and the Harry Chapin Food Bank, both of which immediately mobilized with supplies and volunteers in the wake of the storm.

The American Red Cross suggests financial donations. Contributions may be made by visiting www.redcross.org/donate, or by texting Michael to 90999.

The Harry Chapin Food Bank is a member of Feeding Florida, the association of Florida's 12 food banks, all of which have responded to requests for assistance in the Panhandle.

Harry Chapin will be collecting monetary donations through the end of October.

Those who would like to make a contribution to Hurricane Michael relief and recovery efforts, can send a check or financial donation to the Harry Chapin Food Bank. Donations designated for Hurricane Michael relief will be passed on to Feeding Florida or sister food banks in the affected areas.

Send the donations to the Harry Chapin Food Bank Fort Myers or Naples locations:

-Fort Myers Distribution Center, 3760 Fowler St., Fort Myers, FL 33901

-Collier County Center, 3940 Prospect Ave., Unit 101, Naples, FL 34104

For those Beach residents planning to travel to Cape Coral for the last weekend of Oktoberfest, the German-American Club has added a disaster aid drive for victims of Hurricane Michael.

Free admission will available on Sunday only between noon and 3 p.m. to each person who brings in three or more non-perishable or disaster relief items.

Donations also can be dropped off at the club on Pine Island Road daily between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m.

For most of us, our reaction to tragedy is to give what we can.

For those still planning to give, we urge you to do so wisely so those in need - and only those in need - benefit.

-Observer editorial

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