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How to help after Boston Marathon bombings, Texas fertilizer plant explosion crises

Compiled by Kate Bennion

For the Deseret News

Published: Tuesday, April 23 2013 2:30 p.m. MDT

This aerial photo shows the remains of a fertilizer plant destroyed by an explosion and an emergency responders vehicle, bottom left, in West, Texas, Thursday, April 18, 2013.

Tony Gutierrez, AP

The International Business Times reported that as of Monday morning, more than $12 million had already been donated toward helping Boston bombing victims. While many people have a desire to help, navigating calls for donations can be difficult. There are several resources that can help potential givers make wise charitable decisions.

Beware of scams

In the wake of the Boston Marathon bombings and the explosion in West, Texas, the Federal Trade Commission has issued a warning and guide to avoid scams.

"Doing some research first will help ensure that your donation will go to a reputable organization that will use the money as promised — and as you intend," writes Colleen Tressler, FTC consumer education specialist. "Urgent appeals for aid that you get in person, by phone or mail, by e-mail, on websites, or on social networking sites may not be on the up-and-up."

Tressler gives some tips for avoiding scams, including donating to trusted charities, securing organization information and paying with checks, as cash isn't traceable. The FTC also has other charity research resources.

Boston

Although they require more caution, online donations are often the easiest way to give, especially when those in faraway places wish to help.

According to the International Business Times, a wide array of charitable donation opportunities have arisen for Boston, including both crowd-funding and institutionalized funds.

Kickstarter-style campaigns include fundraising efforts for Celeste and Sydney Corcoran, Jeff Bauman and Brittany Loring, all of whom were injured in the April 15 bombing.

It's also important to consider the venue when participating in crowd-funding, both for fees and for verification.

"The top crowd-funding sites — GoFundMe, GiveForward and YouCaring — all say they vet the people who set up fundraising accounts for medical victims, and they all say they’re quick to pull the plug at the first sign of anything suspicious," reports NBC. "GoFundMe takes … a total of about 8 percent. GiveForward charges a 7 percent fee, including billing charges, but offers donors the option of covering those so that all money goes to the recipients."

Other, more general charities include One, which was set up by Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick and Boston Mayor Tom Menino. Mashable and Ars Technica both have lists of Boston-specific, accredited charities to donate to.

West

After the fire and explosion at a fertilizer plant in West, Texas, both international and local organizations are involved in giving assistance.

The Red Cross and Salvation Army both have resources in the area and are accepting donations, including shelter, food and medical care.

Local organizations and volunteers throughout the state including churches, individuals and charities are also offering assistance. CBS Dallas Fort Worth has a list of emergency resources and donation sites. Houston-based KTRK-TV also has a list of places that both offer aid and accept donations.

"In addition to the cost of medical care and emergency services, the recovery and rebuilding of the area surrounding the plant will take both time and money," reports NBC.

EMAIL: kbennion@deseretnews.com

TWITTER: @katebennion

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