Learning to Give, Philanthropy education resources that teach giving and civic engagement

Disaster Relief Resources

Japan Tsunami-Earthquake destructionThe philanthropic efforts around the world to support the victims of natural disasters serve as models for students about how a civil society gives its time, talent, and treasure and takes action for the common good. Since many students ask how they can help, we would like to support you with resources, tools, and information you may find useful for addressing the issues of Disaster Relief.


How can we give encouragement to communities and individuals who have lost homes, family, and resources?

A disaster can claim the lives of residents, devastate homes, and interrupt the supply of basic needs. A frightening event may rob children of a sense of security. Learning to Give encourages young people to share their time and talent in a unique project suggestion with many ties to learning--through words and pictures of encouragement sent directly to an aid agency in the area of the disaster to be distributed to children who need moral support.

Let young people in the area know that your hearts and kind wishes are with them in support and encouragement. Write a letter, write one word of hope in their language (conduct a little research in the history of the area), write a poem, or draw a picture. Put these creative wishes in an envelope and send them to the aid agency to be distributed to children. This is a creative way to share a little hope and let them know that people around the world are thinking of them. The Disaster Relief lesson plans below empower students to explore motivations and creative ways for giving treasure.


Disaster Preparedness

We have heard stories of how a hurricane, flood, tsunami, earthquake, fire, tornado, or other natural disaster devastated the lives of people. Before these disasters strike, ask youth to consider how we can give our help before the disaster strikes. Some questions for youth to explore in their service-learning project:

  • What are the potential disasters in your area?
  • What are other disasters in other areas (geography and people)?
  • How can your family prepare for the potential disaster?
  • What are the needs in your community to prepare for disasters?
  • How can you help others prepare (information, kits, physical help)?


Plan ahead for a Disaster: Create a Family or Individual Plan
Before you get started on building a disaster kit it is important to understand what disasters you need to prepare for and how to create a plan for you and your family. Follow the link to understand why disaster preparedness is so important for you and your family, what disasters you are most vulnerable to, and how you can begin the process to plan and prepare for future disasters.
Now it’s time to create a plan! Follow the link to begin building your family or individual plan.


Be Prepared: Build a Disaster Preparedness Kit
Follow the below links to begin building the kit that is right for you or your family.
Red Cross


Kids Care Club Project
Be Safe, In the Know and Ready to Go: Make First Aid Kits for families in shelters, Emergency Preparedness Kits, or posters and flyers with safety tips on bicycling, getting to school safely, playground safety, preventing poisoning or age appropriate toys. http://www.kidscare.org/clubcentral/projects/be-safe-know-and-ready-go

GenerationOn Clubs Fundraising Project for Teens called Dimes for Disasters: http://www.generationon.org/teens/make-your-mark/projects/dimes-for-disaster


Disaster Relief Lessons

Learning to Give offers classroom lessons on the topic of disaster relief. Like all Learning to Give lessons, they are coded to state academic standards. 

  • Disaster Relief – You Can Count on Me! (K-2)
  • Disaster Relief – You Can Count on Me! (3-5)

    These lessons introduce learners to opportunities to respond to a natural disaster. The students learn the vocabulary terms spend, save and donate. The students learn the definition of philanthropy (giving time, talent and treasure, and taking action for the common good) as well as explore reasons why people choose to donate. As a class, they will discuss and sing the song "What is a Philanthropist?"
    Focus Question: How can we be most helpful to the victims of a major disaster, such as a hurricane or earthquake?


disaster victimsThree-lesson unit on natural disasters:

  • (Grades 9-12) Hurricane Katrina/Great Hanshin-Awaji Disaster Collaboration

    This unit introduces learners to different types of natural disasters, exploring how their potential devastation could be reduced, and how during and in their aftermath, individuals, civil society organizations and government can provide assistance to help those impacted by the devastation. The purpose of this unit is to learn why and how citizens of the world choose to help those affected by natural disasters.
    This unit was created as part of a collaborative initiative on promoting youth philanthropy education through a global network between the United States and Japan.


Additional Resources

The Learning to Give library offers some relevant briefing papers:


Service Projects

bagged cookies with messagesMoral Support: About a month after a disaster, the most valuable help from a young person may be moral support. Letters of support are appreciated. For example, a school in Atlanta was matched with a school in Japan after the tsunami.  The children learned to write some Japanese characters for words such as “cheer up” “How are you?” “What is your name?” They sent cards with pictures and messages to Japanese children attending school in a shelter.  The cards were very much appreciated.  Prepare youth that they may not get a response. The recipients are busy and overwhelmed and may not have resources to respond.


Kids Care Club Project: Hurricane Helper: Participate in a coin collection or read-a-thon to help raise funds to send to those in need. http://www.kidscare.org/clubcentral/projects/hurricane-helper


Fundraising: Many times, in areas of disaster, the most needed resource is money.  You may want to consider helping your students host a fundraiser for disaster relief to benefit one of the many agencies currently serving the needs of communities that have experienced disasters: