I don't have much money to give, but I have a few dollars I could spare to help a stranger. The emergency personal disasters we've seen people are facing these past couple of weeks (due to the recent polar vortex winter and ice storms in Texas, Arkansas, Louisiana, and Tennessee) have made many people in Washington state ask the question: "How can I help?"

If you aren't able to donate your time and resources to local and national charity organizations, you can always help your fellow humankind by donating money to someone in their time of need on GoFundMe.com. There is always someone needing a helping hand there. I once used a GoFundMe to buy plane tickets to Tennessee so that Willow and I could go to my grandmother's unexpected funeral. That is why I will always be grateful for GoFundMe! I would have never been able to get to Nashville without it!

If you want to help someone out on GoFundme, it's easy: just search for the city where you want to help. Next, after you see the list of available fundraisers, you'll want to go through the ones whose pictures most reach out to you. Make sure that the GoFundMe you click on is still "open" because they don't get removed until the fundraising organizer takes it down. Some of the GoFundMe's you see are months or even years old, or they have already reached their goal.

My 9-year-old daughter, Willow, is always yelling at me when we are out and about because I tell her many places have signs posted up with clear warnings to the public not to give handouts to panhandlers. In Yakima, there are many homeless and panhandlers outside the Walgreens downtown, in front of Safeway on Lincoln Ave, and on the sidewalks near the Walmart in Terrace Heights and the Target store on Fair Ave.

I tell Willow that the best way we can help the panhandlers is to donate our money, food, or volunteer time to one of the many local food banks and to the Union Gospel Mission. But between you and me, it still grips my heart that many times I am not able to help someone who is standing right in front of me asking for money. It also kills me that when natural disasters happen in states across the country, I am not able to drive out there and help on the ground.

You want to make sure your donation goes to the ones that are the most urgent and pressing. I found for you these five fundraisers that are urgent, local to Washington state, and pretty heartbreaking. They cover everything from emergency surgeries and transportation costs, to costly emergency veterinary bills, and more. I am sure that each one of these hosts would appreciate any help you could give.

Thank you for being a "good Samaritan"!

Alex Lupo Sasser via GoFundMe

The Alexanders:
Jonathan Alexander's mom and dad live in Alabama and they both came down with COVID-19. Jonathan now has to go back and forth to visit his parents, who are both in the hospital. The GoFundMe goal has been met, but Jonathan could still use the help with paying for home health care for his mom and traveling frequently to see his dad, who is still in the hospital.

Megan Aarsvold via GoFundMe

Emmy:

Emmy had a giant tumor in her brain removed in December 2020. She had a previous tumor removed when she was a child. Since her surgery, Emmy has been diagnosed with Anaplastic Pilocytic Astrocytoma, a "rare and aggressive cancer". She and her husband, Axel, are trying to stay positive and keep up their spirits during this trying time. Emmy had to quit her job due to doctor trips for radiation and various therapies. Her husband is doing his utmost to pay the bills but they could both use a lot of help. The GoFundMe goal is $100,000 and so far they have close to $8,000.

Esther Mayobo via GoFundMe

Nico:

Nicolas "Nico" Mayoba came to America and settled in Washington state. With his earnings, Nico was able to send money back to his home country of Zambia to help pay for home health aides for his grandmother. He also paid for all of his nieces to attend school. Recently, Nico passed away. His family is devastated over the loss of their beloved Nico. Nico's friends are using GoFundMe to raise money to pay for his funeral here in Washington and then to fly his body back to his homeland country of Zambia. The GoFundMe goal is $15,000 and so far they have raised $1,725.

Mark Christi Ballard and J V via GoFundMe

Shaylee:

Shaylee has "Brain On Fire" disease, medically known as Anti-NMDA Receptor Encephalitis. She went to Memorial Hospital to get help for unexplained joint pain, violent mood swings, and nosebleeds. The doctors discovered Shaylee had a brain infection. Her family is using GoFundMe to help pay for the astronomical medical bills. On February 21, Shaylee had a stroke and bleeding from her brain. The doctors performed emergency surgery on Shaylee. The GoFundMe goal is $75,000 and so far they have raised $10,470.

Violet Diaz via GoFundMe

Chubby:

Chubby, aka "Ollie Bear", is a wicked cute and loving Sharpei, but this lil' baby has fallen ill. When Chubby's hind legs recently became swollen, her human, Violet, took her to the vet. Emergency surgery is needed to save Chubby's stomach and intestines, but the veterinary bill will be colossal and part of it must be prepaid. The GoFundMe goal is $6,000 and so far they have raised $1,685.

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