Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the past month, you’re probably well aware of the horrendous amount of damage caused by hurricanes all throughout the Caribbean and southern United States.
One of the islands that was hardest hit by Hurricane Irma is Saint Martin. I spent the last two years of my life as an expat on this island, and I knew just about every inch of it by heart. These photos are horrible to look at, especially since I can see my old home, my neighbor’s houses, and my friend’s places of business scattered in pieces in the street. Even if you’ve never been to Saint Martin at all, I’m sure you’re just as shocked and horrified as I am!
As someone who knows the island well, I’m getting constant Facebook messages and text messages from people asking how they can help the island. If you’re one of the many looking to give your time, money or resources to put Saint Martin back on its feet, you are in the right place! Here are the best ways you can help Saint Martin now and in the coming months.
The quickest and easiest way to help Saint Martin is by donating money. Although you should always be careful who you donate money to, there are some reputable organizations you can trust with your funds. Having funds to purchase exactly what is needed and to buy closer to the affected areas allows your donation to go farther and better address the enormous needs of the community.
Samaritan’s Purse has already made multiple trips to the island to pass out much-needed supplies like drinking water and food. If you look at the second photo in the article linked above, you can see the street I lived on just a few months ago. I was one of the lucky ones who left the island before the destruction hit. As you can see, my neighbors were not so fortunate.
You can donate to the cause on the Samaritan’s Purse website to help those neighbors and the rest of the island. I have also donated money to Go Fund Me accounts created by people I trust who have a direct link to Saint Martin. If you choose to donate through Go Fund Me, please only donate to people you know and trust who you are certain can help those who need it most.
It’s hard to get donated items to Saint Martin right now, but there are a few organizations that have managed to find a way to do it! If you want to donate items to Saint Martin, the Rotary Club can help.
The Rotary Club of St. Catharines, Ontario is teaming up with the Rotary Club on Saint Martin. I have been to meetings of both clubs and know the members, so I will be sending supplies this way. Even though you don’t know them, you can trust that a well-respected and established organization like the Rotary Club will make sure your donations go to the right place!
Currently, a huge need for Saint Martin is school supplies so that kids can get back to school and return to normalcy. This will help them psychologically after such a traumatic event. Since many of the schools have been looted, there is a lack of materials. So hit up those school supply sales and send it over!
At the time of writing, donations should be shipped to a Florida address, which will then be sent via boat to the island. You can find the address posted on the St. Catharines Rotary Club Facebook page. Follow this page for updates on how you can help!
Rally Your Community
Help Saint Martin by getting other people involved! Did you know you can start a fundraiser on Facebook? Link to a donation page for a reputable organization and use the word “donate” in your post, and Facebook will ask you if you’d like to start a fundraiser. Then, you can invite friends or just leave it on your wall!
You can also ask people for help in person. My parents wanted to help, so they started a book drive for an educational program on Saint Martin that I used to volunteer with. They already have a ton of books to send to the program once the mail delivery starts up again! You can do whatever you want to help, whether that is a food drive in your school or a school supplies drive at your church—just find a way to send it.
As of the time of writing, Saint Martin is currently not accessible to the public. However, it will be once the ports and airport are rebuilt enough to allow commercial boats and airplanes.
Even though Saint Martin’s plight is already fading from the news as fresh events begin to take over the headlines, it’s not out of the woods—not at all! The rebuilding efforts will last for months or even years.
Please don’t forget little Saint Martin. This island community is somewhat isolated from the outside world, but it needs those of us unaffected by the hurricanes to help. Mark your calendars for three months from now, and then check to see what volunteer teams are heading to the island.
As you can see, there are many ways to help Saint Martin recover from Hurricane Irma! This little island is devastated right now, but with a little help from the rest of us, it can get back on its feet to become the beautiful community it once was. You can be a part of that! This is your chance to make a difference.