What's the best way to assist the relief effort? Send money. The resounding response from relief organizations is that cash donations afford them the most flexibility and avoid the need for sorting and packing donated goods. For a more extensive list of national and local organizations that are accepting donations, see www.washingtonpost.com.

What if I want to give something more tangible? Check with a nearby agency -- or your church, school or employer -- to see whether there is an organized effort to help hurricane survivors. All D.C. firehouses are accepting donations of toiletries for displaced people at the D.C. Armory. They particularly need toothpaste, toothbrushes, deodorant, lotion, shampoo, razors, shaving cream, hairbrushes, combs, hair oil, cotton swabs, toilet paper and dental floss. Don't bring clothes!

If I want to volunteer, whom should I call? The American Red Cross is coordinating efforts in many communities. In the District, call the mayor's call center at 202-727-1000; SERVE DC will match volunteers with relief efforts. Maryland residents can check http://www.marylandcares.us/. In Virginia, check www.virginiacorps.org or www.vaemergency.com or call the public inquiry line at 866-880-4288.

Whom should I contact if I have a room or a home to offer a displaced person? Call your Red Cross chapter. But consider the matter carefully before making an offer, because it could be a long-term commitment.

Some of the Organizations Accepting Donations

American Red Cross

P.O. Box 37243

Washington, D.C. 20013

800-435-7669 (English);

800-257-7575 (Spanish)

https://www.redcross.org/donate/donation-form.asp

America's Second Harvest

35 E. Wacker Dr., Suite 2000

Chicago, Ill. 60601

800-344-8070

www.secondharvest.org

B'nai B'rith Disaster Relief Fund

2020 K St. NW, 7th Floor

Washington, D.C. 20006

www.bnaibrith.org

Catholic Charities USA

1731 King St.

Alexandria, Va. 22314

800-919-9338

www.catholiccharitiesusa.org

Charity Hospitals Relief Fund LSU Foundation

3838 W. Lakeshore Dr.

Baton Rouge, La. 70808

www.lsufoundation.org

Church World Service

P.O. Box 968

Elkhart, Ind. 46515

800-297-1516

www.churchworldservice.org

Bush-Clinton Katrina Fund

P.O. Box 4624

Houston, Tex. 77210

www.bushclintonkatrinafund.org

Episcopal Relief & Development

815 Second Ave., 2nd Floor

New York, N.Y. 10017

800-334-7626, Ext. 5129

www.er-d.org

Habitat for Humanity International Katrina Relief Fund

121 Habitat St.

Americus, Ga. 31709

800-422-4828

www.habitat.org

Heart of Florida United Way

1940 Traylor Blvd.

Orlando, Fla. 32804

407-835-0900

www.hfuw.org

Hearts With Hands

951 Sand Hill Rd.

Asheville, N.C. 28806

828-667-1912

www.heartswithhands.org

Humane Society of the United States

2100 L St. NW

Washington, D.C. 20037

301-258-8276

www.hsus.org

Institute of Southern Jewish Life Katrina Relief Fund

P.O. Box 16528

Jackson, Miss. 39236

601-362-6357

www.isjl.org

Jewish Federation of Greater Washington

6101 Montrose Rd.

Rockville, Md. 20852

301-230-7200

www.shalomdc.org

Louisiana Disaster Recovery Foundation Inc.

c/o Division of Administration

1201 N. Third St., Suite 7-240

P.O. Box 94095

Baton Rouge, La. 70804

www.louisiana.gov

Lutheran Disaster Response

475 Riverside Dr., 16th Floor

New York, N.Y. 10115

800-638-3522

www.ldr.org

Mennonite Disaster Service

1018 Main St.

Akron, Pa. 17501

717-859-2210

mds.mennonite.net

Noah's Wish

P.O. Box 997

Placerville, Calif. 95667

530-622-9313

www.noahswish.org

Operation Blessing

977 Centerville Tpk.

Virginia Beach, Va. 23463

800-436-6348

www.ob.org

PetsMart Charities

19601 N. 27th Ave.

Phoenix, Ariz. 85027

800-423-7387

www.petsmartcharities.org

Salvation Army

615 Slaters Lane

Alexandria, Va. 22313

800-725-2769

www.salvationarmyusa.org

Samaritan's Purse

P.O. Box 3000

Boone, N.C. 28607

828-262-1980

www.samaritanspurse.org

United Methodist Committee on Relief

475 Riverside Dr.

New York, N.Y. 10115

800-544-8583

gbgm-umc.org/umcor

United Way for the Greater New Orleans Area

2515 Canal St.

New Orleans, La. 70119

www.unitedwaynola.org

YWCA USA

1015 18th St. NW

Suite 1100

Washington, D.C. 20036

202-467-0801

www.ywca.org