By Kate Atwood

I use this space regularly to write about how you and I can help our most vulnerable neighbors here in Atlanta. This time, however, I am going to turn our focus on helping those suffering in Japan.

Disaster relief often sparks a charitable generosity amongst us, but the sustained efforts to help are really what will impact the nation’s future. Japan presents a unique challenge for aid and relief efforts because of the nuclear catastrophe that followed the earthquake and tsunami. One US naval officer even went as far to say just days after the earthquake that the radioactivity releases from damaged nuclear reactors in Japan have created “one of the most challenging humanitarian operations ever conducted.”

The good news is that online giving is at an all-time high, increasingly convenient and can ultimately be the most successful tool for helping during such times, as long as you are giving to the most systemic and sustainable efforts.  Here are three organizations I encourage you to support:

Aid for Everyone: The Red Cross operates 92 hospitals in Japan and has deployed more than 1,000 medical relief volunteers across the country already. You can text REDCROSS to 90999 and make a $10 donation from your phone or visit redcross.org and make a donation.

Aid for Children: It is estimated that more than 100,000 children have been displaced from their homes in Japan. As a result of its initial on-scene assessments, Save the Children has developed a three-year strategy to bring aid and relief to the countries youngest victims. To support their effort, make a donation savethechildren.org.

Aid for Animals: We must not forget our furry friends. The International Fund for Animal Welfare will deploy its own team to assess needs regarding animal rescue, as soon as the situation stabilizes and ensures responder safety. In the meantime, IFAW needs our help to provide local animal groups with funding for food, shelter, medicines and whatever else is needed. Head over to ifaw.org to support their efforts.

While such disasters as Haiti and Katrina allowed for everyday citizens to roll up their sleeves and help, Japan’s aftermath excludes this possibility in a lot of the devastated areas, leaving us to find more remote ways to get involved. This frustrates no one more than the citizens of Japan themselves, who culturally are some of the most nationalistic citizens in the world.

Our support thousands of miles away can help those displaced by the earthquake and tsunami get back to their homes, back to their community, and back to their loved ones as soon as it’s possible.

For more about Kate Atwood, visit katesclub.org.

Collin Kelley

Collin Kelley has been the editor of Atlanta Intown for two decades and has been a journalist and freelance writer for 35 years. He’s also an award-winning poet and novelist.