If you plan to contribute to relief efforts, consider these tips from the United Way and Better Business Bureau:
• Don't give to charities you've never heard of; don't trust charity endorsements from obscure blogs or e-mails. If you give to an established charity online, make sure to donate via its main site - not a separate page that might be operated by imposters.
• Gifts of clothing, food or other in-kind donations may not be appropriate. Unless the organization has the staff and infrastructure to distribute such aid, the donations might be more of a burden than a help.
• Avoid groups with names that sound like established charities but are slightly different. These organizations might be scams.
• All legitimate charities have administrative costs, so beware of dubious claims from groups that say 100 percent of donations assist victims.
• Find out whether the charity is providing direct aid or raising money for other groups. You may want to avoid the middleman and give directly to charities with a presence in the region.
According to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch the following organizations are all "four-star rated" charities:
St. Louis Community College Libraries
Florissant Valley Campus Library
Forest Park Campus Library
Meramec Campus Library
Wildwood Campus Library