I’m glad you asked! You can mail stuff, drop it off, or order it from wish lists that have been set up. Here’s what, who, and how:
As to what is needed, it varies, but the main need I see at all the Occupies are things to keep people warm and dry. Weather is a big, nasty factor right now, and whatever you can do to help people survive the weather is hugely helpful. This ranges from camping and sleeping gear (such as blankets and sleeping bags intended for the cold, and pallets or cots to lift people off the wet ground) to warm clothes (especially wool/weatherproof gloves/mittens, socks, and hats), and tarps, tents, etc.
Food and water are always of use, and if you are able to drop off, or have delivered, hot food, that is especially good for health and morale when it is cold, rainy, or snowy/icy.
There are also a lot of specific needs that vary according to actions taking place or changes in weather or the number of occupiers or if stuff gets taken by the cops, etc. Various forms of technology, such as generators (including bicycle generators or solar panels); rechargeable batteries; cameras, laptops, and video equipment; and boomboxes or PA systems are on several lists.
So, how do you find out who needs what? There are several places to look. If you want to help your local encampment by dropping some things off, you’d start your search by seeing what that group needs. If you have specific items you’d like to mail to whomever needs them most, you would search another way.
We’ll start with What’s Needed.
For example, I have a lot of first aid and medical supplies I don’t need that I wanted to donate, and it took me a bit of hunting around to find out who needed them. In my quest, I compiled a bunch of info which I am passing on to make it easier for you to donate supplies, as well. (There are also skills and facilities that can be donated. I’ll get to that at the end of this post.)
OccupyWishList.org has a list of encampments that have listed specific items they need, how many they need, what priority that item is (from lowest to highest), what the items each cost, and how many have been procured or still need to be procured. Then you click on the “details” button to get it to them.
Items range from inexpensive to costly, with most things in the $15 to $30 range. However, some of the most urgently needed items are inexpensive or things you might already have that you could easily part with. For example, Philadelphia lists as very high priority lozenges, Emergen-C, and wool hats, socks, and gloves, which cost $1.00, $2.00, and $10.00, respectively. Do you live near Philly? If so, give those people some warm clothes, blankets, buffered C, and throat lozenges, please! (You should see what Occupy Anchorage needs! Talk about winter weather occupation!)
This is a useful site, but it is certainly not exhaustive. Most encampments are not listed on that site, so if you want to cast a wider net, there are some other ways to search.
Occupy Wall Street (#ows) has a very useful page called How to Help. You can donate money on this page. This page also includes links for local eateries that deliver food to Zuccotti Park/Liberty Square, so you can call and order them some pizza (an “occu-pie”!) or pannini or veggie wraps. There is also a list that changes, depending on what items they need at the moment. Their mailing address and the locations to drop off items are included, too.
#NeedsofOccupiers is what is known as a “hashtag” on Twitter. Putting the pound sign (#) in front of a word or phrase allows anyone to search for tweets that contain that hashtag. Note that there are no spaces between the words. For a hashtag to work, it has to be an uninterrupted string of characters with a pound sign at the beginning. Lowercase or uppercase are irrelevant; you can use any combo of either. (i.e., #NeedsOfOccupiers and #needsofoccupiers will both come up in the same hashtag search.)
A great deal of Occupy organizing happens in real time on Twitter, so it’s an extremely useful tool. It is not hard to use. It’s really quite easy once you get the hang, and Twitter can give you a tutorial when you sign up. If you’re not sending tweets, just reading (“following”) others, it’s even easier. It’s a great way to get news and information quickly and easily. I strongly encourage you to learn how to use it. If you have a cell phone or smart phone, you can use Twitter on that. Otherwise, you can use it on your computer, via the internet.
Anyone at an encampment who needs anything will indicate which Occupy they are (it’s often in the name of the person or organization sending the tweet) and what they need. Somewhere in their tweet will be the hashtag, #needsofoccupiers and then a listing of what they need, and/or a link to their list of needs, and sometimes even the exact location to bring those items such as “media tent,” or “medical tent,” or “corner of 14th and Main St.” Here are some examples of some tweets containing this hashtag. (Note: There are many hashtags and links in these tweets originally that I removed because the HTML made the post look all screwy. If you actually go to Twitter and click on the handles — the accounts, which begin with @ — and the hashtags, they will take you to relevant sites.)
#needsofoccupiers : Macbook Video/Photo editing Station. 4g Networks. Biodiesel Generators. High Quality Web Cameras email@example.com
Its mighty cold outside today. Please drop off some blankets and other items to keep #OccupyMemphis warm. #NeedsOfOccupiers
Good Morning #OccupyOKC 🙂 everyone trying to stay dry & warm!!! Ponchos, tents & any rain/cold protection #needsofoccupiers #OKC #ows …
How else do you find out where things are needed, such as if you want to help locally?
There is an excellent site called We All Occupy. It lists groups affiliated with the movement by state or city, in the US and internationally, as well as other types of groups, such as us (Occupy at Home) or Occupy Air Force or college and high school occupies, etc. So, you can look up your state and get the website, Facebook page, and/or twitter for groups local to you and contact them to see what they need. It’s a terrific resource, and it shows just how widespread this movement is.
Of course, when all else fails, use your search tools. Most groups have Facebook pages and Twitter accounts. Just go to Facebook and search Occupy [name of city you’re interested in]. Sometimes you’ll come up with several listings for the same city, so you have to hunt around and figure out which one is the current and active one. Similarly, on Twitter, you’d search @Occupy[name of city you’re interested in]. Often there are many people active on Twitter for the same Occupy, but only one “official” twitterer for that city. In my opinion, the best accounts to follow when you don’t know where to start are @WeAllOccupy, @OccupyTogether, @USGeneralStrike, @OccupyWallStNYC, @OccupyOakland, and @OccupyWallSt.
Get Creative! “What about if I am good at/know how to….
There are all sorts of skills that can be used at encampments, and some of it you can do at home. For example, someone at the #Occupy at Home Facebook page mentioned that she knits. Well, most encampments are asking for socks, mittens, hats, blankets, etc. If you knit or crochet these things, especially if they are warm (wool is the best), these would be awesome to donate! Maybe you can have a knitting party or circle and then have all the items dropped off at your nearest Occupy?
Another encampment asked if anyone knows how to make bicycle generators. Someone else had the parts but didn’t know how to build one. You can get together on this.
Lots of places need food. Why not make an extra casserole or have a baking party with friends and then drop it off? There’s lots you can do.
So, keep an eye on the websites or Facebook pages of the Occupies that interest you or are in your area. Follow them on Twitter. See what’s needed. And if you have a skill or a lot of some items you don’t need, ask them if they can use them!
OK folks, I have no internet access at home! I wrote this in my library parking lot. I don’t know when I’ll get internet running again. So, please forward, cross-post, tweet, and generally disseminate this info! Please comment (and I’ll try to approve them whenever I can get online) with other ideas about skills you can offer or items that are needed, etc.