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Donating During a SHTF Emergency

Disasters bring out the very best and the very worst in people. Learn about the dangers that exist in donating during this chaotic time and how to do it while maintaining OPSEC.

Disintegration of society, nine meals away from anarchy, mob attacks, the Golden Horde, post-disaster diseases, feral dogs, FEMA camps; we have all heard and read about the nightmares surrounding the aftermath of large scale disasters. Over the years when these tragedies have occurred, I wait and watch for how these emergencies bring out the worst and the very best in humans.

Lack of supplies and resources following certain emergencies and can lead to societal breakdowns especially in densely populated areas (specifically the east, and coastal areas). These breakdowns are very real concerns and can lead to dangerous situations. This is why many preppers have decided to fortify their homes and store supplies for a bug in situation. Those who have not prepared adequately could be headed to a FEMA camp or left to the mercy of others.

Charity During a SHTF Event is Controversial

Some preppers feel in their hearts they should take a communal approach to prepping and have donations set aside to help their neighbors and fellow citizens. Providing charity during a SHTF event is a controversial topic among the preparedness community. As much as we want to help, donating can bring unwanted attention to yourself and your supplies. There are those that fear your hand out could lead to compromising your OPSEC and subjecting yourself to a dangerous situation.

Mac Slavo of SHTF Plan writes, “When resources and supplies are depleted and panic grips the populace, there will be riots, looting and violence. And despite the inherent good I’d like to believe exists in every human being, when people are at their wits end, hungry, and tired, they will do things they’d never have imagined during a time of peace and stability.”

We have seen time and again that in the face of a common enemy (or disaster) people will bind together to help one another. This is best of human nature; but this altruism is limited. We can only do so much before we, ourselves begin to suffer. I tend to agree with James Rawles’ belief that we should give until it hurts. After all, we can always give an extra MRE or some water. That said, if you feel the need to provide donations during this chaotic period, you need to keep in mind there are dangers.

  • Keep OPSEC in mind at all times. Do not tell anyone or advertise that you have supplies. If the post-disaster environment worsens, you could end up becoming a target. It’s best to find a secure bug in location and wait it out.
  • If you do venture outside, avoid roadways and groups of large people. Riots and mob attacks could become a problem.
  • Avoid outdoor food preparation as the smell of food could attract unwelcome visitors. Stick with foods that do not require food preparation such as shelf stable canned goods or MRE’s for the first few days.
  • Do not give handouts at your door. This will also welcome uninvited guests. It may be best not to answer the door at all unless you know the person.

Your Family is Your First Priority

Keep in mind that some emergency situations such as pandemics, EMPs, cyber attacks and grid down events can last much longer than we expect. Therefore, before you give out your extra preps, consider if the emergency your are dealing with has the capacity to extend into a long term situation. If this is the case, then you should hold on to your extra supplies for your family’s wellbeing.

Above all, we need to make every assurance that our family has enough to survive. This is reason you started preparing in the first place. Take inventory of the food and supplies that you have to estimate how long your supplies will last. This supply calculator can help.

How, What, and Where Should You Donate?

If you are fortunate enough to have any extra supplies consider setting the charitable items aside in a separate location from your family’s supplies. This will keep your supplies more organized. Purchase items at discount stores or dollar stores and look for small sample items. Or, if you have signed up for online freebies, add those to your donation kits. The smaller items will not take up excess space and will large enough to add to a backpack.

To maintain a low profile and not advertise you are a prepper with a stash of supplies, consider an anonymous donation to your church or food bank, or go through a third party so that you will not be named as the one giving the supplies. This will ensure that the food is given out to persons in need and best of all, your family stays safe. When someone comes and asks for food or help, you can direct them to the organization or church where you made the donation.

When you are acquiring supplies to donate, keep basic needs in mind. Further, only provide enough for a small meal and perhaps, direct them to a local shelter, church or food bank. Some items to consider donating are:

  • Boxes or cereal
  • Dry goods (rice, beans, oats, pasta, etc.)
  • Canned goods (soups, pasta sauce, canned meals, etc.)
  • Bottled water
  • Jars of peanut butter
  • Protein bars
  • Diapers and wipes
  • Infant formula
  • Infant cereal
  • Baby food
  • Powdered milk
  • Protein/calorie drinks
  • Soap
  • Pocket bibles
  • Extra blankets
  • Clothing

To conclude, I would like to quote one of our favorite childhood television personalities, Mr. Rogers, “When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, ‘Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.'”

I have studied disaster preparedness and its aftermath for many years, and what I have found is that disasters bring out the very best and the very worst in people. Although these type of situations can be very dangerous, some feel that giving in the absolute time of need is our duty to help our fellow man. During a long term event, we will all be fighting a battle to keep our family safe and thriving. Some may be better off than others while some may be hit especially hard. As difficult as it will be to see others suffer, you have to ensure the safety of your family first and make sure they have what they need to carry on. If you are fortunate and have extra supplies to give, be cautious and methodical about how you give it out.

If you have decided to donate during a shtf event, what items have you stashed away?


This article was originally published at Ready Nutrition™ on June 21st, 2014