DEAR HARRIETTE: I was asked to give gently used clothing to a clothing drive for victims of the hurricanes that have occurred in recent weeks. I am so happy to help, and I gathered everything my family and I could give away.
I was a little concerned because I saw a news report that said that sending “stuff” was not good because it was hard for people to receive it. The woman in charge of the drive promised she could make it happen. She also showed me the website of the organization she is working with that has a high charity rating. I just want to make sure this is legit. What should I do? -- For Those in Need, Chicago
DEAR FOR THOSE IN NEED: It is true that sending clothing and food items can be tricky for certain parts of the world that are surviving disasters. I also have seen reports that show food rotting at drop-off points and clothing seemingly dumped and discarded. It is also true that some organizations have figured out distribution systems to make it possible to get these items directly to the people.
You should go to the charity's website to learn who they are and how they care for people -- for this crisis and in the past. Also, you can look at Charity Navigator (charitynavigator.org), an organization that closely checks to ensure the financial health and transparency of charities and ranks them accordingly. This will help you assess whether your donations will get to their destination.
DEAR HARRIETTE: My teenage daughter and her best friend often spend time together after school. I got word from a friend that he saw them walking in a busy commercial neighborhood, and he was worried about them.
He said they looked innocent, but he was sure young men would be interested in them because they looked provocative, even though he said they weren’t necessarily dressed in a sexy way. He said, as a guy, he knows how guys can look at innocent girls like that. He told me he didn’t speak to them and might not have told me, but since I ran into him he thought I should know.
How can I handle this situation? I know my daughter has to grow up, and I am figuring out how to protect her and to let her have some independence. -- In the Balance, Manhattan, New York
DEAR IN THE BALANCE: Your job is to constantly teach your daughter how to protect herself as she is growing up. She should always be mindful of her surroundings, and -- as she is doing -- it is best to travel at least in pairs.
For your friend, ask him to speak to her whenever he sees her so she knows someone who cares about her is looking out for her. Ask him to tell you whenever he sees her. Then when you tell her she will realize, as the old folks used to say, you do have eyes in the back of your head. We need a village to help protect and raise our children to keep them safe.
(Harriette Cole is a lifestylist and founder of DREAMLEAPERS, an initiative to help people access and activate their dreams. You can send questions to firstname.lastname@example.org or c/o Andrews McMeel Syndication, 1130 Walnut St., Kansas City, MO 64106.)