Civic Engagement & Service

Disaster Relief Resources

When disaster strikes, Bulls come together to help. 

This page contains resources to help those looking to contribute to relief efforts following major disasters. To make the most of your contributions, consider these FEMA tips for donating and volunteering responsibly.

Find Volunteer Opportunities

New volunteer opportunities are posted under the Service Tab on BullSync as community partners share their needs. Students interested in volunteering should login to BullSync and click the Service tab at the top of your homepage. This will take you to a list of volunteer opportunities you can sign up for. Each opportunity has a contact person listed from the  community partner that is hosting that opportunity. You should communicate directly with that person about the opportunity you sign up for.

Organizations who would like to submit a volunteer opportunity for USF students can do so by completing these steps to Post a Volunteer Opportunity

Follow the Center for Leadership and Civic Engagement’s Facebook page to get up to date information from campus and community partners supporting relief efforts.

Untrained volunteers should not self-deploy to the scene of a disaster. Wait until a need has been identified and the local community impacted has requested support. Sign up to volunteer and wait to travel until opportunities have been identified. Once assigned a position, make sure you have been given an assignment and are wearing proper safety equipment for the task.

If you have any questions about this how to volunteer or post a volunteer opportunity, please contact Amanda Finch, Associate Director for Civic Engagement, at amandafinch@usf.edu 

Become Disaster Trained

The USF Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) is a student organization adaptation of the FEMA program and a part of USF's Disaster and Humanitarian Relief (DAHR) Student Collaborative. CERT is operated by students, faculty, and staff at USF who receive both the CERT Basic Training as well as advanced training in specific areas to maximize our effectiveness. DAHR provides members with a unique experience by combining opportunities in research, philanthropy, and hands on emergency preparedness under one organization. The mission of DAHR is to encourage students with similar interests to collaborate and work together to reach common goals through research and philanthropy. For more information on USF DAHR, visit USF Disaster Management's Facebook page. 

Make a Financial Donation

Emergency management and disaster relief experts stress that monetary contributions to established relief agencies are always the best ways to help immediately following a disaster. When the people support voluntary organizations with financial contributions, it helps ensure voluntary organizations can fund response and recovery efforts, obtain goods and services locally, and provide direct financial assistance to disaster survivors to meet their own needs.

If you are unsure where/how to give financially, check out these helpful resources:

Center for International Disaster Information Guidelines for Giving

National Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster 

Federal Trade Commission Consumer Information

Give Blood

To find a donor center or Big Red Bus near you, visit oneblood.org.

Consider a Donation Drive

Immediately following a disaster, a community can become easily overwhelmed by the amount of generous people who want to help. Due to the vast amount of donation drives that take place after a disaster and the logistical challenges involved with delivering supplies to hard hit areas, we recommend students interested in collecting and donating items work directly with legitimate relief organizations in impacted areas to organize drives or support an existing donation drive. Contacting and affiliating with an established organization will help to ensure that you are appropriately trained to respond in the most effective way. Remember, unsolicited donated goods such as used clothing, miscellaneous household items, and mixed or perishable foodstuffs require helping agencies to redirect valuable resources away from providing services to sort, package, transport, warehouse, and distribute items that may not meet the needs of disaster survivors.

·BEFORE Collecting:  Connect with organizations working in the affected area to identify WHAT is needed, HOW MUCH is needed, and WHEN it is needed.  The right items, in the correct amounts, at the right time.

·BEFORE Collecting:  Identify transportation to move the items from where they are to where they are needed.

·BEFORE Collecting:  Identify who will take possession of the items and how they will be used or distributed.

·Used clothing is never needed in a disaster area.  Donate used clothing locally to an organization that has a year round mission with used clothing.  Or sell used clothing at a yard sale and donate the money raised to a responding organization.

·Unsolicited, unorganized donated goods such as used clothing, miscellaneous household items, and mixed or perishable foodstuffs require helping agencies to redirect valuable resources away from providing services to sort, package, warehouse, transport, and distribute items that may not meet the needs of disaster survivors. For more tips, read 10 Worst Things to Donate by HowStuffWorks.  

Additional Organizations and Resources:

The American Red Cross

FEMA Training

National Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster

Team Rubicon

USF System Hurricane Guide

Alternative Service Breaks: Our Role in Disaster Recovery

A New Understanding of Rebuilding: Lessons from New Orleans