It's a question I've been asking myself the last couple of days, especially as I decide whether to post about this or that toy or deluxe nursery furniture.
Cooper at Been There and some other bloggers are getting busy, meanwhile, and trying to coordinate grass roots deliveries of necessities for families who've evacuated with barely the shirts on their backs.
Personally, I'm conflicted about such nobly intentioned efforts; I found with my own experience of rushing a shoppingbagful of Neosporin to the West Side Highway on Sept. 13th that many such ad hoc acts of altruism amount to a cry lost in the wind. Sending diapers and onesies to a church in Louisiana that may or may not have mail service and may or may not still need them if they arrive may be a sub-optimal response to the crisis, but it may still be an entirely necessary one from your point of view.
The adventurous commenter on Cooper's site, though, the one organizing a pickup truck convoy across LA/MS/AL to deliver emergency supplies, however, reminds me of the well-meaning people we watched that 9/13 who cheered and handed Dasani water [a product of the Coca Cola Company, btw] into the windows of trucks going to the WTC site; their can-do spirit inadvertently paralyzed traffic, turning the main access road for downtown Manhattan into an emergency vehicle parking lot.
Still, if you're not comfortable with just looking out the window of your plane and saying, "gee, that must be difficult," and then going home, go read up on Cooper & Co's plans. And check out Hurricanehousing.org, which was just set up by Moveon.org to match up housing needs and housing offers for people displaced by the disaster.
A Clearinghouse for Toys and Supplies for Families Hit Hardest by Katrina [beenthere.typepad.com]
[UPDATE: Emily and Cooper report they've been inundated by requests from people after being mentioned on CNN and MoveOn's sites. And she clarifies that most of the requests are for people to send things directly to individuals who are housing evacuees, not to some random church. [but to some random person, but still, go check it out.]