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You have a variety of ways to donate to Hurricane Isaac relief

Hurricane Isaac hit New Orleans exactly seven years after Katrina devastated the city.

While Isaac has done his share of damage -- more than two dozen people in the storm's path died, insurance costs could be as much as $2 billion by some estimates and President Obama has declared parts of Louisiana a major disaster -- things aren't as horrendous as in 2005.

The loss of life and injury count were much lower because the rebuilt hurricane-protection system ringing the Crescent City held, keeping storm surge and flood waters out of New Orleans proper.

But in the suburbs of LaPlace and Slidell, rescue crews are still helping residents evacuate from their waterlogged homes.

  Hurrricane Isaac flooding screen shot of UK Guardian video
Screen shot of The Guardian UK video; click image to see the full video.

And as with every major natural disaster, it will take a lot of help for residents of Louisiana and the other states affected by the hurricane to recover.

If you want to be part of the assistance, you can donate the standard ways -- check, credit card or text message -- to IRS approved charitable organizations such as the American Red Cross.

But that group also is accepting less traditional contributions.

The Red Cross will gladly accept donations of airline miles. Its website says it "has arranged multiple charitable mile agreements so that you can donate your miles to help volunteers and staff get to critical areas."

If you want to donate unused air miles, you need to contact your airline to transfer them to the Red Cross. The charity's special Web page on airline mile donations has details for donors with Continental, Delta, United and US Airways frequent flyer plans.

Welcome, but not tax deductible: The Red Cross thanks you for your air miles gift, but it also has a tax warning.

Since the Internal Revenue Service recognizes the donation of airline miles or points as a gift to the charity from the airline, not from you the mileage account holder, you cannot deduct the value of your donated miles.


But you still can deduct your standard monetary gifts to the Red Cross and other charitable groups working to help Hurricane Isaac victims.

Beware storm charity scams: Sadly, however, many charity scams crop up after disasters.

So make sure that the group to which you give has the IRS stamp of approval. If it doesn't, your donation will be disallowed.

Your can check on a nonprofit's tax status by using the IRS' Exempt Organizations Select Check. This online search tool has the same data on charitable organizations that was previously available via IRS Publication 78.

And be sure to follow the other IRS guidelines in making your charitable gift, such as getting a receipt regardless of the size of your donation.

Hat tip to Lani Rosales of AGBeat

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