4 Free Ways to Make a Difference After Hurricane Sandy

Hurricane Sandy has been big news nationwide, among the fitness community (due to the New York City Marathon—click for an awesome read related to the cancellation) as well as the general public. There’s not much left to be said…except that if you didn’t catch Rock Center this week, I highly recommend checking out this video for more on the topic. It’s heartbreaking but very important.

As a resident of NYC for two years who recently moved back to the Midwest, it’s been an emotional week. Even though many things stressed me out about living in the city, there were also countless things that I enjoyed about the area that was being battered by the storm.

First, early this week, I felt fear for those in Sandy’s path. I woke up on Tuesday to see the terrible destruction on the news and felt a mix of grief (for those who lost loved ones, homes, power), worry (for my friends who live out there) and guilt. Why was Sandy the hurricane that was so destructive, not Irene, which blew through while I lived there earlier this year? And why wasn’t I closer to be able to help those in need?

Immediately after that, I felt a second pang of guilt. Why are you thinking about yourself right now? From that point forward, I set my mind on supporting those in the area as much as I could from where I am at now—whether that support is emotional, financial or otherwise.

True, those of us west of Philadelphia will have a tough time making it over to volunteer in Staten Island or New Jersey, but we can make a difference. Besides donating to the Red Cross, which of course is a fantastic move, here are a few free ideas. No excuses, right?

  1. Be a beacon of kindness. Earlier this week, there was quite a bit of nastiness traveling around the social media world, especially related to the “should they/shouldn’t they” marathon debate. Even if mean words aren’t directed at you, seeing negativity and hate can alter your mood. If you can, try to support those who need it with a “thinking of you” or a “you are my hero!” Give kudos to those who deserve it, like the amazing runners helping out today with #SupportStatenIsland.
  2. Click, click, click. Healthy recipe blogger and soon-to-be author Chocolate-Covered Katie is donating all profits from her fantastic website to hurricane relief efforts now through December 1. So go check out all of her yummy recipes (one-minute chocolate cake, anyone?), pin them and share them with friends. More clicks = more money for the cause!
  3. Donate blood. Join me this week and make an appointment with your local blood center if you’re healthy and able. More than 300 blood drives were cancelled due to the storm and power outages have most likely affected blood bank storage. Click here to find a donation location near you.
  4. Keep the love going. As discouraging as the destruction and verbal battles were, it’s been so inspiring to watch as people from all walks of life have come together to help each other. Politicians, including rivals like Obama and Christie, have cooperated to help their constituents as rapidly as possible (speaking of which, don’t forget to vote on Tuesday!). I hope that we can all translate this cooperation and charity long after the last home receives power again.

Let’s wrap this up on a happy note:

And for those on the East Coast, this one’s for you…

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