Hurricane Ike has affected us all in some way — some worse than others. But we're a community, and we're in this together. Several volunteer opportunities are available in Houston and the surrounding communities, and thousands of people need our help. Please take the time, if you can, to help those in desperate need during this trying time.
New UH POD
The University of Houston will serve as a Point of Distribution (POD) center Thursday through Saturday, providing water, ice and packaged meals to the public. Volunteers from our campus community — especially students — are needed to help staff this Hurricane Ike relief effort. The POD will operate from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. but organizers hope a substantial number of volunteers will arrive between 7 and 7:30 a.m. for initial preparations.
Volunteers are needed throughout the day and you can work for whatever period of time you choose. And, of course, you are encouraged to wear your Cougar Red apparel. The POD facility will be set up in Parking Lot 12B, between Robertson Stadium and Scott St. Volunteers are asked to check-in at the "Tailgate Area" when they arrive. Those who usually park in the 12B area are asked to use alternative lots around the campus. See: Campus Map Please call 832-842-5550 with any questions.
The Student Government Association is preparing to launch COOGSLIST, a student resource Web site that will allow students to seek helpful information from their fellow classmates to identify potential carpool buddies, housing opportunities, gas station locations, and other invaluable information. Students can register for free at www.uhsga.com/coogslist.
The SGA and the Metropolitan Volunteer Program will be organizing Cougar Community Response teams with student volunteers this week to help out at various points of distribution (PODs) in the city of Houston, of which now there are nearly 80. Students wishing to volunteer may meet at the steps of the UC at 9 a.m., 12:30 p.m., and 3:30 p.m. to be transported to various shifts. Students may return after each shift or stay until the final shift is over at 6 p.m.
UH has requested the assistance of all volunteers enrolled in the UH Cougars for Kids program to man relief centers to distribute water, ice, food, etc. We have been asked to provide 100 Cougars for Kids volunteers each day, for the next few days. Volunteers should report to Hurricane Ike POD site at UH Lot 12B on Scott Street, on the west side of Robertson Football Stadium at 8:30 a.m., starting Thursday, Sept. 18. Cougars for Kids T-shirts will be provided for all volunteers, while they last. Those Cougars for Kids volunteers willing to help with this community service effort, please contact CougarsForKids@uh.edu immediately to confirm that you will be volunteering with us.
In the Houston area
Individuals who are interested in volunteering can assist at various locations throughout Houston and Harris County, including PODs and area nonprofit agencies and shelters. To volunteer or for more information, please call 713-853-8802 between 9 a.m. and 6 p.m. Nonprofit agencies needing volunteers may also call the volunteer line with their requests.
The volunteer Harris County Citizens Corps was pressed into service to help deliver supplies at the Federal Emergency Management Agency's PODs. Other local volunteer agencies include Volunteer Houston and the Salvation Army Greater Houston Area Command.
There's a continued need in Sugar Land for volunteers to assist with recovery efforts. Many residents, especially seniors and those with disabilities, still need assistance with recovery efforts on private property. Citizens should call Sugar Land's Hurricane Ike Phone Bank at 281-275-2700 to request volunteer assistance and offer to serve as a volunteer.
The Harris County Office of Emergency Management needs volunteer drivers to deliver Meals on Wheels Wednesday and Thursday, 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. You will need to use your own vehicle. Call 713-881-3258 or go directly to St. Paul's United Methodist Church at 5501 Main St. in Houston to offer your time.
Gulf Coast Regional Blood Center is seeking blood donations. Donors are encouraged to call 713-790-1200 to make an appointment, or visit their Web page.
M.D. Anderson Cancer Center is seeking blood donations and blood platelets for cancer patients. Call 713-792-7777 to make an appointment. Donate 10 a.m.-5 p.m. through Saturday at 2555 Holly Hall. Parking is free.
The Houston Parks and Recreation Department seeks volunteers to help clean up Hermann and Memorial Parks. Volunteers are also needed to organize cleanups of their neighborhood parks. Call 713-222-5052.
The Houston Food Bank needs volunteers to put together food packages and pass them out. They say the need for volunteers will continue for weeks. Some volunteer positions can be done by children as young as 8 years old, though they need to be accompanied by an adult at all times. The food bank is located at 3811 Eastex Fwy. Call 713-223-3700, or simply show up to work.
The United Way of Greater Houston is asking anyone who would like to volunteer – as well as those who need assistance – in the Houston-Galveston area to call 2-1-1 Texas/United Way help line. Specialists will connect potential volunteers with local agencies in need of help.
Catholic Charities of Houston: Call volunteer coordinator Nancy Mercado at 713-305-8268 for information on upcoming disaster relief projects.
Houston's First Baptist Church asks volunteers to gather at the church, where they will be distributed to Red Cross and FEMA relief efforts. Arrive before 7:30 a.m. to check in. Park in the east parking lot. The church is located at 7401 Katy Freeway.
The Islamic Circle of North America is looking for volunteers to help with relief efforts at the ISGH North Center, 11815 Adel Road. Call 832-275-0786.
Grace Community Church is a FEMA distribution center. The church is seeking volunteers to distribute supplies. Shifts are available 8:30 a.m.-1:30 p.m. and 1:30 p.m. to 6 p.m. Call 281-481-6860.
Important information for volunteers
From Harris County Homeland Security and Emergency Management Volunteers should:
- Remain hydrated
- Watch for Signs of fatigue/stress levels
- Utilize proper lifting techniques/training
- Take breaks
- Limit excessive work hours
Points to be discussed with all volunteers at the POD sites:
- Ensure all volunteers hydrate themselves on a regular basis
- Observe volunteers for signs of fatigue/stress levels (i.e., excessive sweating and/or difficulty catching breath also, tempers remain calm)
- Demonstrate proper lifting techniques in handling commodities (don't strain yourself)
- Use work implication methods (assembly lines, proximity and communications)
- First Aid kits at all sites for minor cuts or injuries
- Aspirin (for those persons in need)
- Know where nearest police officer is located for problems needing law enforcement attention
- Know where nearest hospital location in case of emergency
- POD - POC should have list of hospitals and contact numbers