(WTVM) - America shines brightest when our neighbors need help.
As millions of Americans focus their attention on the devastation in Oklahoma, many will feel compelled to reach out and help.
But sometimes, in massive recovery efforts, people's good intentions can turn into a burden for workers in the trenches.
News Leader 9's Elizabeth White spoke with local emergency management officials and the Red Cross about how to really make an impact with your gifts in times of disaster.
To make sure your gift is a blessing and not a burden, emergency management agencies say tax deductible cash donation are the best way to go.
Give your money to reputable agencies like the American Red Cross, the Salvation Army or United Way.
The Red Cross has been in Oklahoma since just after the storms passed, and the items needed to help people have been purchased way before this storm hit.
They are feeding and sheltering victims as well as first responders and seeing to their medical and personal needs.
This is not a time to clean out your closet and donate used items, and it's not a time – especially if you live far away from the disaster – to even donate brand new items.
"To get items delivered to Oklahoma is a nightmare and the distribution of those items is an even bigger nightmare into an already chaotic environment," said Mary Littleton with the Lee County Red Cross.
Finally, unless you are a trained volunteer, called to serve, experts ask you to please stay at home. Recovery efforts can be dangerous, and if you just drive there you will be one more mouth to feed and body to shelter.
You can best support victims by texting "Red Cross" to 90999 to give $10 or donate online.