While it's easy to spend most of our days simply focused on making the rent or surviving the commute, even if you don't follow the news beyond skimming the headlines of other people's newspapers on the train, it's also easy to feel overwhelmed—and powerless—at the amount of sheer need in the world, given the mounting refugee crisis in Syria, as well as the homelessness epidemic right here in New York City. Earlier this month, Mayor Bill De Blasio spoke with WNYC's Brian Lehrer and acknowledged that affordability—or, rather, the lack of affordable housing—in the city is exacerbating the problem of homelessness.
But we all can help, so in the interest of being proactive, we've rounded up ways New Yorkers can contribute, both to overseas efforts on behalf of the Syrian refugees and in our own neighborhoods:
Your best bet at the moment is to donate to trustworthy organizations like Oxfam, Doctors Without Borders, or the American Refugee Committee. (CharityWatch.org, which rates the quality of charitable organizations, has a list of more good options here, and recommends donating by check, rather than trying to send goods.) Oxfam is also asking concerned citizens to petition the government to allow more refugees into the U.S.
Another option: The International Rescue Committee, which focuses its efforts on aiding refugees from war and natural disaster, has offices in New York, and is accepting donations as well as volunteers. The Independent has a comprehensive roundup, as well, of places to donate, petitions to sign, and grassroots organizations to support, though keep in mind that many of them are based in Europe and the U.K.
Donate cash or time: If you're interested in making a monetary contribution—or volunteering your time—there are plenty of reliable New York organizations that will accept both, including The Coalition for the Homeless; the Partnership for the Homeless; the Bowery Mission; Common Ground; Women in Need NYC; the Doe Fund; the Ali Forney Center; Picture the Homeless; the Ali Forney Center; and the New York City Rescue Mission.
Donate goods: If you'd like to donate extra food from your pantry, you can drop off at the Food Bank of NYC or City Harvest, both of which also accept cash donations. And if you've got clothes or home goods to contribute, remember that the mysterious "donation bin" on your block may not be legit, and your better bet is to find an above board option in your 'hood using NYC Stuff Exchange, or through a tried and true option like Goodwill (which will also pickup on large enough donations), the Salvation Army, or Pick Up Please, which offers free donation pickup service in the city.