Modest Needs, a charity that helps people with short-term emergencies, has begun a relief program for two groups that are being overlooked after Hurricane Katrina: Gulf Coast residents who evacuated themselves and the people who took them in.
"While FEMA might eventually be able to help persons who evacuated on their own, that help is going to be some time coming," Modest Needs founder Keith Taylor told me in e-mail. "We're receiving applications from families across the country who've taken in as many -- no kidding -- 25 refugees from this storm."
The organization works like a charitable EBay, matching up individuals seeking help with people who want to help them. They verify applicants and often pay bills and other expenses directly. Taylor shares the details of one recent application from a family in Ruston, Louisiana:
My wife and I are housing and feeding four adults, one toddler and four cats who were evacuated from their homes as a result of Hurricane Katrina. Red Cross has yet to issue food vouchers to evacuees in the state of Louisiana, so they cannot buy food or clothing. In our efforts to assist them, our electric, gas and grocery bills have increased (we opened our home to them on Sunday August 28, 2005). We are currently unsure of the amount of time the evacuees will need to stay with us; we are estimating one month. We will appreciate any assistance you may be able to provide.
Donors can fund an application like this directly or donate to the charity.
Modest Needs is a small organization with low expenses that are covered by a private grant, so 100 percent of the money donated to hurricane relief is being given to recipients. The charity, which took off in popularity after being linked on MetaFilter in 2002, doesn't spend any money on self-promotion, so it's utterly dependent on bloggers to get the word out.