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Helping Disaster Victims – Real And Personal

Ajit Thakur 1

by Ajit Thakur CPA
Natural Disasters are inevitable and unavoidable. Hurricane Harvey inflicted untold misery on millions of people staying in the southeast part of Texas. People lost their homes, their belongings and all their worldly possessions. What they did not lose is their HOPE. Generally human beings are resilient to natural calamities.
These disasters and calamities also bring out the best side of people – people who did not suffer in these calamities, stand up and help those people who are the victims of these disasters. The help is both material and emotional.
There is another side of each disaster that is real and personal. You may be ok but your neighbor suffers damages. You are an employer; your business is ok but some of your employees suffer damages. You may be working in a hospital, engineering or manufacturing or software company where your colleagues have suffered losses. These are the people who are not your family but they are part of your LIFE.
If you are able to set aside $10,000+ you can create your own Private Foundation and or Employee Assistance Fund (PF / EAF ) that will allow you to directly help your employees, friends and coworkers. You can help these people (and not your direct family members) only in situations like Hurricane Harvey – which is declared as a Disaster by Federal and State authorities.
Large organizations and charities like the Red Cross and JJ Watts Charities are the backbone of any relief effort. However in flooded neighborhoods small kayaks provide direct help.
In such situations, your PF / EAF can be more direct help to disaster victims- and can avoid delays and excess paperwork. Your PF / EAF organizations may provide assistance in the form of funds, services, or goods to ensure that victims have the necessities, such as food, clothing, housing (including repairs), transportation, and medical assistance (including psychological counseling). The type of aid that is appropriate depends on the individual’s needs and resources. Disaster relief organizations are generally in the best position to determine the type of assistance that is appropriate.
For example, immediately following a devastating flood, a family may need food, clothing, and shelter, regardless of their financial resources. However, they may not require long-term assistance if they have adequate financial resources. These flood victims may be entitled to and may receive help from other sources and charities like FEMA, Red Cross. Individuals who are financially needy or otherwise distressed are appropriate recipients of charity. Financial need and/or distress may arise through a variety of circumstances.
Please also keep in mind your neighbors, co-workers, employees and close friends can donate to your private foundation / employee assistance fund, and get the same tax deductions as donating funds to Red Cross and such big charities. You can encourage younger members of family to contribute their ‘piggy banks’ to your private foundation and teach them a lifetime lesson about ‘Doing Good and Feeling Good’ – the importance of giving, the importance of helping.
Helping millions is a very noble thought but start with one person at a time and encourage your friends and co-workers to join your journey.
God Bless Houston, God Bless Texas and God Bless USA
You may send your comments to Ajit Thakur CPA: ajit@ajitthakur.com 713-668-8007

Disclaimer: Author is not offering any tax or legal advice in above article. This article is to provoke thoughts about reaction towards helping people who have touched our lives and hence a personal tragedy.

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