Some donations for Texas storm victims may be a burden for charities

SYRACUSE (WSYR-TV) - "Everyone is looking for ways they can help," says Emily Kulkus as boxes of shoes are packed up at Fleet Feet Sports in East Syracuse. "Shoes are a perfect example of something that is a tangible good that is going to be in great need."

It's the kind of donations workers at the central New York store know best. The plan is to ship gently used or new shoes to other Fleet Feet stores in Houston, to make them available for storm victims. They'll keep accepting donations until Labor Day.

"The community has been incredibly generous. We've received hundreds of pairs of shoes, many of which are in excellent, if not almost brand new condition," Kulkus adds. "We can't wait to send them down south."

With a network of stores across the country, including Houston, shoe donations are the right fit for Fleet Feet. They can easily foot the bill for shipping the supplies.

But, for some national charities, sorting through piles of donated clothing, stuffed animals, or other materials can be more of a burden than help.

"To ship it from here in Upstate New York...2,000 miles to Texas or Louisiana now, there is certainly a cost associated with that," says Michael Schwartz, with the Salvation Army.

His advice - make smart donations. If you're looking around your house for stuff you don't want anymore, you may want to reconsider.

Transportation into Houston is already difficult. Clogging up incoming trucks with piles of stuffed animals or bulky items wouldn't help agencies that are trying to get necessities like bottled water to shelters.

It's one of many reasons the Salvation Army in Central New York isn't accepting clothing or general "stuff" for Harvey donations at the moment.

They're asking for cash in their red kettles or via texts of the word "storm" to 51555.

Schwartz says monetary donations are the most efficient way to pay for disaster kits quickly. They may also be used to buy gift cards for victims to pick out what they need, close to home.

"The individual is going to use that in the communities that are impacted to buy that replacement item, which helps to spur the economy to recover after a disaster," he says.

Local donations are being used to buy some items in Central New York. 40,000 cleanup kits were shipped from Utica on Monday, buckets stuffed with everything from sponges to gloves, face masks and garbage bags.

People who don't want to donate cash still have options. But, find the right charity for the donation. Call ahead. Check on what they really need before you decide not to write a check.

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