On June 23, 2016 a torrential downpour hit southern West Virginia leaving the towns and the people in complete devastation. Flood waters rose so high and accumulated so much force that homes were uprooted from the ground, cars were flipping and floating down the streets as boats would in an ocean and worst of all, lives were tragically lost.

This flood hits very close to home in my own heart because I am from West Virginia and I have family personally affected by this natural disaster just a few hours south of me. The outpouring support has been incredible and I can speak for my own family when I say these people are eternally grateful for the love they’ve been shown.

In West Virginia, we’ve started to cling to the saying “West Virginia Strong” because it gives hope, shows pride and ensures a future. Here are 11 ways how YOU can help the residents be “West Virginia Strong” now and forever.

1. Baby Food

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It’s sad enough to think of grown adults dealing with this type of devastation, but now imagine a small, helpless baby with life-sustaining needs. Baby food and formula are essential for these little survivors lives.

2. Canned Meat

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We all need protein to survive. Even though canned meat is generally not as ideal as fresh chicken, steak or fish, it is very much needed in this situation. Protein tends to keep you full longer, so canned meats are a great item to donate.

3. Canned Vegetables

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If you’ve ever seen a food pyramid, you know vegetables need to make up a large portion of our diet. Green beans, potatoes, corn, carrots, the list goes on of what kind of veggies come in a can.

4. Cereal

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Cereal is a tasty treat that not only kids can enjoy. Whether for breakfast or just for snacking, cereal is hassle-free. There’s usually a whole aisle devoted to cereal in grocery stores, so you won’t have any trouble locating this item.

5. Dried Fruit

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Photo by Sina D’Amico

Just like veggies, fruit also makes up a significant part of our diet. Dried fruit is an easy way to raise your fruit intake without having to worry about spoiling an actual apple or banana if you don’t finish every last bite.

6. Nuts

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Photo by Christin Urso

Nuts are loaded with healthy fats that our bodies require to function. From almonds to cashews to pistachios, you can’t go wrong.

7. Peanut Butter

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Photo by Abby Wang

Who doesn’t love peanut butter? It’s the ultimate comfort food. Peanut butter is delicious and can be put on a ton of other foods as well. I know I’m always happy to twist open a new jar of peanut butter, so I can only imagine the excitement these residents would have.

8. Soup

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Why do you think people drink soup when they are sick? To feel better, of course. So why not donate soup to people who are in need of a pick-me-up? There’s nothing a bowl of chicken noodle soup can’t fix.

9. Sports Drinks

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Electrolytes, electrolytes and more electrolytes. Sports drinks are a quick way to replenish your body with nutrients. Plus, who doesn’t like the taste of a fruity gatorade or vitamin water?

10. Vitamins

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With losing access to a kitchen, I can only imagine how hard it is to fuel your body with the vital vitamins and minerals it needs to survive. Although living off of only vitamins is not the answer, vitamins are a surefire way to give your body the nutrients its craving.

11. Water

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Hydration is key and fresh, clean water is key as well. The flood cut off access to clean water, so store bought water bottles are the saving grace right now. If all else fails and you can’t purchase food, donate water.

For more ways to donate check out Red CrossSamaritan’s Purse or West Virginia native Brad Paisley’s Gofundme page.