Although we may not be hearing much about it in the news anymore, the woefully overactive 2017 hurricane season left many communities in the U.S. far, far away from a full recovery and in desperate need of assistance, particularly with winter just around the corner.

Here's some sense of scope: According to Accuweather, the economic costs of Hurricane Harvey and Hurricane Irma are expected to reach $290 billion. Meanwhile, AIR Worldwide estimated that Hurricane Maria will result in $40 billion to $85 billion in costs, with 85% of that represented by Puerto Rico, and that figure doesn't even include uninsured property damages or flood damage covered by the National Flood Insurance Program.

Of course, rattling off figures can't even come close to adequately describing the human costs, but it's a start in comprehending how massively destructive and disruptive this hurricane season actually was. In other words, this year, there's a lot of need for financial and other forms of assistance in America (and outside of the United States, too).

This brings us to The Motley Fool's Foolanthropy partner for the 2017 giving season. This past summer, our dedicated Foolanthropy team vetted several worthy non-profit organizations to find a suitable partner to recommend to our philanthropic-minded community of Fools. We selected All Hands and Hearts -- Smart Response, which specializes in mobilizing volunteers to rebuild after natural disasters, both in the U.S. and abroad.

In an interesting bit of synchronicity, our team confidently made this choice even before we knew the 2017 hurricane season would wreak so much havoc. As much as it pained us all to see such destruction unfolding this past year, it was gratifying to know we had chosen an organization that directly helps so many affected communities.

Getting to know All Hands and Hearts

Just last month, we sent a team of five Motley Fool employees to volunteer on a flood relief project in Houston through All Hands & Hearts. These folks pulled down drywall, ripped out sinks, tubs, and commodes, and tore out ceilings in an apartment complex where flood waters had reached 10 feet high. Read more about the experience from Motley Fool employee Rob Bursk.

Six volunteers stand in front of a damaged house holding tools and construction helmets.

Image source: The Motley Fool.

All Hands Volunteers was founded in 2005 by former tech executive David Campbell after he saw the devastation of the Indian Ocean earthquake in 2004. He structured All Hands as the organizer of volunteer efforts in the U.S and abroad -- to conduct ambitious manual labor projects (mucking and gutting of flooded homes and buildings, rubbling of ruined homes after earthquakes, etc.) and rebuilding efforts of homes, schools, and community hubs.

This past fall, All Hands Volunteers merged with Happy Hearts Fund, which was founded by supermodel and philanthropist Petra Nemcova. Surviving the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami inspired her to start up Happy Hearts Fund to rebuild schools in communities struck by disaster.

All Hands & Hearts welcomes volunteers from all walks of life to their rebuilding sites and provides them with food and lodging for the duration of their stay. Combined, these organizations have made the following impacts in their respective histories:

  • Number of people helped: 1,165,000
  • Number of children sent back to school: 105,200
  • Number of schools rebuilt: 196
  • Volunteers to date: 45,500
  • Volunteer days donated: 289,000

As of this past year, All Hands Volunteers racked up an exemplary 4-star rating on non-profit rating site Charity Navigator.

Dreaming big for disaster relief, recovery, and rebuilding

We here at The Motley Fool have been deeply inspired by the work from All Hands and Hearts, and we want to make a big step in supporting communities struck down by natural disasters. We've set our sights on an audacious pledge to help All Hands and Hearts do more this year -- to help more people, like our friends in Houston, regain their lives after tragedy.

This holiday season, it's our goal first to raise $150,000. Our stretch goal is $200,000, and our super stretch goal is $250,000. We know it's big, and we'll need every bit of help we can get to achieve this goal.

And on Giving Tuesday only, all donations to All Hands and Hearts will be matched up to $100,000 by All Hands co-founder David Campbell and longtime volunteer Tom Young.

To start us off, the $12,850 that Fools raised in August for Hurricane Harvey relief will be rolled into the total for this campaign, and The Motley Fool will kick off the Giving Tuesday launch with a $5,000 contribution. We'll also kick in an additional $2,500 when we hit the $150,000 and $200,000 milestones.

Stay tuned in the coming weeks and months for more information on all the ways we can help All Hands and Hearts. In the meantime, consider visiting give.fool.com to help get this campaign off to a great start!

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