A Facebook video has gone viral that purports to show a number of supplies including dog food – around 500lb according to the video creator – and blankets that had been thrown out by the American Red Cross.
According to the person taking the video, the Director of the Red Cross in Houston had instructed volunteers to throw out the supplies because they could get more in Florida.
Have you seen the posts about the Red Cross and their abuse of volunteers and evacuees? Well, this is going to blow you away! They are throwing supplies into the trash in Houston. But don’t worry, they said they can collect more from what’s going on in Florida. I’m glad they are so respectful of their donors hard earned money
A little time after this video was posted, the Red Cross posted a lengthy message on their Facebook page about the dangers of spreading misinformation and rumours. However, this message didn’t address the claims in the viral video specifically – though we do know that many demonstrably fake rumours have been spreading about the Red Cross recently.
The Dangers of Rumors and Misinformation
Today there are roughly 6,000 American Red Cross volunteers on the ground in 13 states and U.S. territories whose sole purpose is to help their neighbors. These 6,000 volunteers are helping thousands they’ve never met, who have been devastated by Hurricanes Irma and Harvey, as well as thousands more threatened by wildfires across the West and Northwest. In too many cases to count, our volunteers have set aside family and professional obligations to put our humanitarian mission first and lend a hand.
While these volunteers work tirelessly to deliver much-needed aid to areas decimated by unprecedented disaster events, the American Red Cross is faced with an onslaught of baseless claims, rumors or outright lies that do nothing more than undermine our critical relief efforts.
On this page, we embrace the exchange of different ideas and points of view. And during times of disaster, we know that emotions run high and misinformation is quick to spread. But these accusations (theft, charging for services, denying assistance) not only derail the efforts of so many workers providing aid, they divert resources away from our core mission: to deliver relief. The countless hours spent addressing malicious falsehoods ultimately risk hurting those we’re trying to serve.
So for those of you who doubt our credibility, we have one thing to say to you: Join us. Sign up. Put on a Red Cross vest and volunteer at one of our shelters, blood drives or events. We welcome your service.
For those with complaints, provide specifics so that we may follow up to ensure our services are adequately meeting needs and measuring up to the standards we expect and communities deserve. We take legitimate criticisms seriously.
But for those of you determined to perpetuate hatred, rumors, misinformation or lies, you’ll have to excuse us for not addressing you, as we’ve got important work to do to provide help to those in need.
American Red Cross
It is well documented that sometimes certain charities operating in many high profile areas become so overwhelmed with well-meaning donations flooding in that often the donations usually end up getting in the way of the more important aspects of humanitarian work (watch this CBS report or read this NPR article) and are ultimately redistributed or just rejected. As such, experts generally recommend cash donations.
It is true, however, that many have recently criticized the Red Cross of mismanagement and disorganization, including Kingwood council man Dave Martin.
We have reached out to the Red Cross and the Red Cross Houston for comment on the viral video, and spokesperson Jay Bonafede gave the following response –
Numerous inquiries to woman who originally posted this video have gone unanswered. These inquiries have come from both the local Red Cross staff on the ground in Texas, including myself, and from Red Cross National Headquarters in Washington, DC. It is important to note that these videos seem to have been filmed in this individual’s garage in Waco, Texas, nearly 200 miles – a three hour drive – from our primary warehousing operations in Houston. We have asked this individual if she was on the ground at any one of our Red Cross shelters or warehousing facilities; we have asked her to open these closed plastic bags to show us what is in them, and we have asked her to identify the “Red Cross Director” she cites. She has not done so.
What this woman states in her video goes against everything the Red Cross stands for, and is the opposite of what we are doing and seeing on the ground in Texas. Since before Hurricane Harvey struck, the Red Cross has been on the ground in Texas, and our work is just beginning. The Red Cross will be there for months to come as many return to their homes and struggle to rebuild their lives and regain hope.
To date, we have had more than 369,000 overnight shelter stays for Hurricane Harvey, and with our partners, have served nearly 1.8 million meals and snacks in Texas and Louisiana. More than 3,100 Red Cross disaster workers are currently on the ground in Texas, with another 500 on the way. We’ve distributed more than 422,000 relief items like diapers, bug spray, cleaning supplies, coolers, and comfort kits that contain deodorant, toothbrushes, toothpaste and other hygiene items in Texas and Louisiana.
During times of disaster, we know that emotions run high and misinformation is quick to spread. We are constantly reviewing our policies and procedures, and we adapt to what is needed, as each disaster is different.
The Red Cross works with other agencies in the communities in which we work to make sure shelter residents have resources for their pets. As a member of the National Animal Rescue and Sheltering Coalition, we work with national groups like the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals as well as local organizations everywhere we open shelters when disaster strikes