How to help: Disaster relief guidance from SMU’s CEL Center

SMU’s Community Engagement & Leadership Center provided the following information to students on September 1, 2017:

Over the past several days, we have seen a multitude of individual students and student organizations step up with compassion and express a desire to help those affected by Hurricane Harvey. We would like to provide a few important guidelines to ensure your support can be the most beneficial during this time.


Donate money through trusted organizations. The most effective way to support disaster survivors is to donate money and time to trusted, reputable voluntary or charitable organizations.

  • Student Senate has established an SMU Student Disaster Relief Fund with the goal of providing a significant contribution to disaster relief efforts from the SMU community.
  • If your organization would like to collect cash donations for the SMU Student Disaster Relief Fund or other nonprofit organizations, or in-kind donations, please contact the Community Engagement & Leadership Center.

Give blood. The Dr. Bob Smith Health Center is sponsoring a blood drive with Carter BloodCare, which will send donations to its partners affected by Hurricane Harvey and local hospitals. Carter BloodCare is accepting donations at the Flagpole:

  • Tuesday, September 5, 11 a.m.-2:40 p.m.
  • Thursday, September 7, 10:15 a.m.-3:15 p.m.
  • Friday, September 8, 10 a.m.-1:40 p.m.

Donors should bring a government-issued photo ID, and should not fast before donating. Contact with questions.

Get your philanthropic initiatives approved. All student and student organization philanthropic initiatives must be reported and approved by the appropriate campus resources, including the Community Engagement & Leadership Center, Student Activities and the Hughes-Trigg Student Center. Contact for approval.

Report your philanthropic initiatives. The Community Engagement & Leadership Center requires that students and student organizations report any philanthropic initiatives via our Donation Report Form.


Don’t give unsolicited goods. Please do not collect or donate unsolicited goods such as used clothing, miscellaneous household items, medicine or perishable food. When unsolicited and used personal items are donated, helping agencies must redirect their staff away from providing direct services to survivors in order to sort, package, transport, warehouse and distribute items that may not meet needs.

Don’t set up unsupervised collection boxes around campus. Unsupervised collection boxes will not be permitted on campus. All collections for in-kind or financial donations on behalf of a nonprofit organization should be treated as an event and staffed during a specific, approved time period.

Don’t self-deploy to the affected areas. The State of Texas is asking volunteers not to self-deploy, as unexpectedly showing up can create an additional burden for first responders. The National VOAD (Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster) also has noted that the situation may not be conducive to volunteers entering the impacted zone and that individuals may find themselves turned away by law enforcement. To ensure volunteer safety, volunteers should go only to affected areas with a specific volunteer assignment, proper safety gear and valid identification.


The recovery process will be long, and there will be many opportunities to volunteer in coming months and years. The Community Engagement & Leadership Center will make the campus community aware of future opportunities for general volunteers to help contribute to Hurricane Harvey relief.

If you have questions about how you or your student organization can contribute to Harvey relief or any other volunteer need in the community, please contact the Community Engagement & Leadership Center at