Hurricane Matthew and other disasters closer to home are reminders of all we have in America, and how we should and can extend a hand to our neighbors both near and far.

Before Matthew blew through the southeast coast, the storm raked Cuba, the Bahamas, Jamaica and Haiti, killing hundreds, flattening houses and wrecking schools and businesses.

Yet, even as Americans watched the wind swirl on color-coded maps, millions of people grappled with other natural disasters: floods in North Korea and southern Australia, typhoons in South Korea and China, volcano eruptions in Indonesia and Mexico, wildfires in California and Colorado, and a landslide in China.

Closer to home, a Bloomington family lost their house to fire, more than two dozen people lost their place of employment after a fire in Tremont, and several families were left to grieve accident victims.

It is human nature to want to help those in need and to identify more closely with people we know, who live near us, who live like we do. A number of organizations provide help when disaster strikes, but they always need volunteers and money to make a difference.

All are grateful that Hurricane Matthew did not cause more damage than it did, or take more lives than it did. But there always will be another hurricane, another tornado, another fire, another flood. Along with preparing ourselves, we must make sure the organizations that always step up continue to have the resources to do so.

So, consider a donation of money or time to United Way of McLean County and the agencies it serves. No matter how successful an agency is, it always has room for more people to help the people it serves.

If you can help, consider these options:

American Red Cross: online at; by mail at P.O. Box 37839, Boone, IA 50037-0839; by phone, 800-RED-CROSS; by TDD, 800-220-4095; Espanol, 800-257-7575; by text, REDCROSS to 90999 for $10 donation.

The Salvation Army: online at; by phone, 800-SAL-ARMY; by mail, Corps Community Center, 611 W. Washington St., Bloomington, IL 61701; or by PayPal.

Project Hope (Haiti):

Doctors Without Borders:

Not everyone can volunteer to spend a week or a month in a foreign country or even a neighboring county; not everyone can join Peace Corps or AmeriCorps; not everyone belongs to a worship group that sends help for domestic needs.

But individually, you can help by sharing your time, money, food, clothing, prayer. Make a breakfast bag to hand out to a homeless person; offer to make sandwiches for a local shelter.

Everyone, regardless of age or circumstance, has a gift to share.

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