1. Watch what you say, be sensitive
You could say: “I am SO sorry about what happened. Please let me know what I can do to help.” Don’t say: “At least you’re okay.” Many times, the person on the receiving end is NOT okay. They are in shock, and still processing what happened.
Don’t say: “You can always replace the stuff”. Yes, it was stuff…but it was their stuff, and some of the stuff is probably irreplaceable (i.e., pictures, artwork and keepsakes). Of course, escaping the fire is something they can be thankful for, but losing stuff that they bought over the years is a painful experience.
2. Donate practical items that they can use
Clothes and personal care products are definitely practical items you can donate since those are used daily. Another great thing to donate would be grocery store gift cards as they can always use the cards at a later date, If they use the gift cards right away, they can purchase items that they really want.
Restaurant gift cards are ideal as well. Eating is necessary, so you can’t go wrong with donating gift cards from various restaurants in your neighborhood. Also, how about donating a home cooked meal? After all, nothing beats delicious home cooked food. Remember, it’s the little acts of kindness that go a long way. Freshly baked goods would also be a wonderful treat….both kids and adults would definitely enjoy that.
3. Ask them what they need
The easiest way to find out what they need is to ask them directly. They might need you to help with the following:
• Taking care of their kids for a few hours while they go through paperwork and make phone calls
• Taking care of their pet due to their temporary living situation (i.e., hotel that may not allow pets)
• Finding a mental health counselor
• Helping them sift through the few things that may have survived the fire
• Preparing snacks or meals for their kids
There are many ways you can help others who have lost their home in a fire.
During these painful times, it is important to take care of one’s mental and spiritual health. While it will take time to heal the pain, extending a helping hand to fire victims will give them hope. With community support and help from friends and relatives, they will realize that they will get through this.