Stuart Katz

My Philippines disaster relief journey, Part IV: how you can help with disaster relief



Plane With Survivors from Toclaban Arriving to Villamore
Plane With Survivors from Toclaban Arriving to Villamore

While being able to be “boots on the ground” after a natural disaster is certainly an ideal way to respond, it’s not always practical or even feasible.  But everyone can help in some way, and ongoing help is needed.

Here are some ways to consider being a part of the relief efforts in the Philippines:

  1. Makes donations through a reputable non-profit organization.  Groups such as the Red Cross or UNICEF can receive your tax-deductible contribution with the click of a mouse on your computer.  I plan to support Operation Santa, which will provide gifts for children in the hardest hit areas. I have been involved in the inception of this project while in Manila.  It’s goal: that every child should have a gift for Christmas.  There’s a major drive to collect gifts now, but those abroad can contribute financially.  A small gift can be purchased for under $1.00, and the smile it will bring this holiday season is certainly worth a lot more.
  2. Promote your civic or religious group involvement. Your individual contribution can make a small difference, but there’s power in numbers.  Take a leadership role in letting your synagogue, church, or civic group know about the need and how the members can help. Activities could range from pledge drives to fund-raising events such as fun runs or raffles.
  3. Get the word out.  Just letting people know what has happened in the Philippines is important, long after the twenty-four hour news cycle has moved on to the next big story.  Part of the reason I have gone to the Philippines is to provide a first-person report.  You can provide armchair coverage by posting about the ongoing crisis on your personal blog or in a guest editorial in your local newspaper.
  4. Support Jewish relief efforts.  Organizations such as IsraAID and the American Joint Distribution Committee are providing disaster relief assistance in the Philippines right now.  Your contribution to Israeli or Jewish-affiliated organizations can also promote assistance in the stricken country, as the global Jewish community is reaching out strongly to give back to its former benefactor. My personal favorite is an effort of the Jewish community that will likely involve assisting in the building of classrooms, so that the tens of thousands of students who have been displaced can resume some sense of normalcy soon. At least 170 schools and over 500 classrooms have been severely damaged in the Cebu region, and at least 114 more schools had suffered minor damage. School may the furthest thing from students’ minds right now, but resuming a daily routine will provide psychological dividends.
Volunteers preparing food for arrival of survivors at Villamore Air Base near Manila
Volunteers preparing food for arrival of survivors at Villamore Air Base near Manila
Volunteers Hard at Work With Survivors of Typhoon Yolanda
Volunteers Hard at Work With Survivors of Typhoon Yolanda


Following are donation links to some of the many organizations involved in the relief efforts:  While I’m not personally endorsing any one in particular I can say that I did see all of them on the ground in the Philippines while there and are in involved in the recovery and rebuilding process.

Red Cross:


American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee:



World Food Program:;jsessionid=6567FE8838700712A5C7325B5C0F13DA.app261a?idb=1237175804&df_id=2141&2141.donation=form1&2141_donation=form1

Save the Children

Doctors without Borders

If you are interested in finding out more about either the Operation Santa efforts in the Philippines or the classroom rebuilding efforts, please email me:




Description of the various Operations at Villamore Air Force Base
Description of the various Operations at Villamore Air Force Base

Aid Planes


About the Author
Stuart is a co-founder of the Nafshenu Alenu mental health educational initiative founded in 2022. He currently serves on the Board of Visitors of McLean Hospital, affiliated with Harvard University Medical School. He serves as Chairman of the Board of OGEN – Advancement of Mental Health Awareness in Israel; chairman of Mental Health First Aid Israel and a partner in “Deconstructing Stigma” in Israel. He is on the Board of Directors of the Religious Conference Management Association. He has counseled over 7,000 individuals and families in crisis