As always, pictures best tell the story: Set 1 (MSNBC Photoblog), set 2 (The Big Picture) and set 3 (more from MSNBC).

We have been reduced to watching in despair the horrors of serial disasters — earthquake, then the tsunami and now a looming nuclear radiation leak. But if this article about Japanese people isn’t total crock, it gives hope.

Instead of urging you to donate whatever little you can, let me tell you what I do: I try to donate what I would have otherwise spent on a few dinners at a restaurant. I prefer to cook food at home anyway. I shouldn’t have to rationalize any form of help but it makes the decision making process instantaneous.

If you have decided to donate, spend a few minutes on whom you will donate to. The American Red Cross is easiest to donate to (text REDCROSS to 9099). However, there is some uncertainty over what kind of aid Japan has requested at this point. Read this for more.

Their press release states (emphasis mine):

The American Red Cross stands ready and willing to assist following a magnitude 8.9 earthquake in Japan and the resulting tsunami that affected other countries in the Pacific region.

You can text and donate to Salvation Army too, but I stay away from them (here’s why) if there is an alternative.

Doctors Without Borders is a good option for now; they have already dispatched teams to Japan.

Some more reading on how to go about donating in the wake of disasters. Armchair donations are designed to make us feel better about ourselves. Making an informed decision, therefore, will help you feel even better.

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At the other end of the world, surfers in Norther California were eager for tsunami waves to hit their coast. Then there was this photographer who went to the coast to photograph the incoming tsunami ….. and likely lost his life.

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I hope none of you went ‘But he didn’t urge us to donate for that disaster!’.

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